Neil claims speculation over his future led to defeat at West Brom

Preston manager Alex Neil blamed the speculation over his future for his side’s 4-1 Sky Bet Championship defeat against West Brom, the club that he has been linked with.

Albion striker Dwight Gayle opened the scoring in the 27th minute and then grabbed his second four minutes later.

Jay Rodriguez added Albion’s third with his 21st of the campaign two minutes before half-time with Gayle completing his hat-trick in the 71st minute.

Preston striker Callum Robinson grabbed a consolation in the final minute.

It was a fourth straight defeat for Preston and Neil felt that his players were affected by rumours about his future.

He said: “I thought that (the speculation) got to the players. It became a little bit of a pantomime before the game. I could see it in their eyes before the match.

“It has affected them and it has affected the day for the fans which I apologise for. The fact that it is because of me makes me really disappointed and frustrated.

“I feel as if I have ruined the day for the supporters. People write what they want and then it grows arms and legs.”

Neil hopes the speculation can be ended quickly one way or another and he added: “It needs to be brought to a conclusion. There has been no approach to Preston. So there is nothing to say.

“There is nothing for me to hide. When I’m not in control of the situation, it becomes tough.

“When you’ve got to make a decision to make, then you are in control. There is no decision to make.

“I’m the Preston manager, I’ve got a rolling contract and that was the case before the game and exactly is this second.

“I would imagine something would take place over the next couple of days and then whatever will happen will happen at that point.”

Albion caretaker manager James Shan was delighted to return to winning ways after back-to-back defeats and with the form of Gayle and Rodriguez as Albion prepare for a play-off campaign.

He said: “After two negatives results I was delighted the performance, the four goals scored and most importantly the three points.

“They (Gayle and Rodriguez) are both fighting it out to be our top goalscorer. I thought that to get our two highest scorers on the pitch was really important. It paid off today in the way that they played together.

“Dwight gets three and Jay gets one and I think it has been a big strength them playing together.

“Knowing the pair of them, the way that are around the training ground and how competitive they are, being level pegging, it can only bode well for the football club in our remaining fixtures.

“It’s always good as a centre forward to be scoring goals because it breeds massive, massive confidence. Both of them offer so much to the team.”

Shan is unsure how long he will remain in charge and he added: “I have got a stock answer.

“They (the club) have asked me to look after first-team affairs until further notice and that is where we sit and where I am now.”