It all started earlier this year when he was enticed to become the manager of Hamilton Academical, a role which he has coupled with an existing position in the heart of the side's midfield. His relationship with the club has been going on for some nine years but it has only been made to seem stronger now that he is fraternising with a bit on the sidelines.
The whole affair has been relatively brief but has come to be informed by his side's position at the top of the SPFL Championship. A victory over Cowdenbeath this afternoon could leave the New Douglas Park side a full seven points ahead. It is a prospect which Neil considers at first as a manager, before answering as a player. "Yeah, we've done great," he says.
You can see where Neil is coming from. That is made all the easier since the view is clear from the top of the league. The 32-year-old took charge of the team on an interim basis after Billy Reid stepped down in April and led them on a six-match unbeaten run - which included five wins - before ending the campaign with defeat at home to Cowdenbeath. That slip was forgiven since Hamilton had been able to find their feet in the league again, fifth place leaving the club in a position of comfort which had not seemed as the side's ambitions were eroded by a few of the rougher performances under Reid.
His fingerprints have been left on the New Douglas Park team, though. The responsibility Reid gave to Neil when appointing him captain and deference he showed his midfielder as Neil struggled with a prolonged hip injury three years ago ensured that he has always been a prominent figure in the squad and an obvious candidate to assume control when Reid stepped down. The former manager can also expect to be applauded for working to ensure there are so many young players to clap your eyes on in the Hamilton first team; the starting XI picked to face Dundee at Dens Park a week ago comprised five players from the club's youth system.
"We are a young team," says Neil. "This season we've had Stephen Hendrie, who is only 19, at left-back; Ziggy Gordon, the right-back, is 20; Mikey Devlin, the left centre-back, is 19; we've also got Ali Crawford and Grant Gillespie, who are young guys that have come through the system. We brought in James Keatings and he is only 20; Jon McShane is only 21 and Andy Ryan is only 19."
The ease with which Neil is able to recount the ages of those players speaks to two truths. The first is that the Hamilton job demands that a manager face constant questions relating to the young talent at his disposal - Reid was often asked to reveal the whereabouts of the next James McArthur and/or James McCarthy - but also that Neil is fully aware of the make-up of his squad, and of what he can expect of them.
His demands change in pitch when he enters the field of play to deliver instructions as a midfielder, while he has acknowledged that his voice carries greater weight when he follows his players into the dressing room and assumes the identity of the manager. "The difference now is that I'm doing the team talks and am finding the way with which we are going to try and win a match, both offensively and defensively, and I'm the guy who has to pick them at half-time if needs be," he says.
"Being the manager is not a huge change for me; I've just got a lot more work to do behind the scenes. I've got guys like Frankie McAvoy and George Cairns in the background, who let me focus on playing when it comes to match day, then all the way down from the sports scientist to the kitman it is a real team effort."
The order with which Neil lists his supporting cast is not by accident. Both McAvoy and Cairns worked as director and manager of the club's youth academy, respectively, before Neil also utilised them as coaches of his first team. Their presence and long-standing relationship with the youngest members of the side have ensured that they have grown into regular members of the senior squad.
They might yet mature into league champions, although Neil has kept that ambition in its infancy so far. "The target for the group is to finish in the top four, and it still is the target," he says. "We are leading the Championship just now but we are still looking to finish top four. If we can better that then great."