There is invariably a lot of tangible links between City and Preston; no less with the appointment of a certain Alex Neil… How is he getting on at Deepdale?
Things started out fine and better than expected with some unexpected results against tough opposition. However, recent form has been absolutely shocking – I appreciate we’ve had a string of injuries but the past few games have largely been a ‘disorganised mess’.
Haha, Norwich never seem to cope against ‘disorganised messes’!
What style has Neil adopted in regards to philosophy since his appointment?
It’s incredibly frustrating at the moment and little seems to be going right (clue: this was penned before PNE’s win at Bristol City in midweek – Ed). It’s something I think can overturn but for that to happen, Alex Neil needs to come up with a plan B as I think his tactics and formation have been sussed out. Certain players really need to start stepping up to the plate too.
Alex Neil… no clear plan B, wow. Many will argue he hasn’t learnt from his time at Carrow Road. The other obvious link is the man who replaced him, albeit initially. Alan Irvine. Many of your supporters wanted him back after the job he did at Deepdale previously. Would you have liked him to return to the dugout for Preston?
Hmm, Alan Irvine doing a great job at North End is very much a debatable subject! I’m of the opinion that he was a woeful manager and I’d argue his managerial style, tactics and signings helped contribute to our downfall into League One. I personally thought his style of football was dreadful. I know we made it into the play-offs one season under him but in all honesty it was largely down to sheer luck. He may be a nice guy, but he’s a woeful football manager so I’m relived he didn’t return.
That’s quite a damning indictment on a man who many Norwich fans wanted to spearhead this new era following his positive reign in charge. To cast our minds back to your former manager, Simon Grayson, are you disappointed he’s been sacked or euphonious that his gamble didn’t pay off?
Disappointed for him in all honesty. I don’t blame him for jumping at the chance as Sunderland are a much bigger club than ourselves with more resources. However at the same time, I did think he made a mistake as that whole club is a basket case. I think he took on far more than he could chew. I’ll always be grateful to him for banishing our play-off curse so I’ll never revel in his misfortune.
As this point, conversation quickly turned to matters off the pitch at Deepdale, as I asked Gary about how Preston are doing financially. Before questioning whether or not he’d like to see a new structure, similar to Norwich.
It’s no secret that we have one of the smallest budgets in the division both on transfer fees and wages. This ties into my point about player investment – we have a small budget but the club and manager have stated their clear intentions to reach the Premier League. Well I can’t see that happening unless the budget is increased, then again I would hazard a guess that Trevor Hemmings would be willing to increase the budget much further if at all. Off the pitch, our finances are a lot stronger than they were a few years ago but we’re still heavily reliant on Hemmings’ money. As for the structure off the pitch, some things I’m very happy with such as the new training ground plans. Others, perhaps not so such as the bloody awful club shop.
An improved club shop, which is something Preston need to improve to keep Gary happy.
The conversation reached ownership via a quick conversation about safe standing, Gary and I both agree it is the next step for English football. Gary then goes onto give his thoughts on how Preston can progress from the Championship…
More investment. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the way our owner Trevor Hemmings has restructured the club and his money has kept us going. However, if we are to make real progress and aim for the Premiership as it’s been recently talked about, then we can’t keep relying on freebies and bargain basement buys. We need to get some decent and better quality players in but the fact is they cost money. Spending around £200/300k won’t get you Premiership footy considering what other clubs are spending.
Before the generic stuff, I asked Gary for his opinion on how Norwich had begun this season…
I have to say I expected better of Norwich – not the best of starts especially with the run of three defeats recently. That said, Norwich aren’t that far off the play-offs so even a couple of wins can swing things quite dramatically in this unpredictable division.
And thus we reach the generic stuff, Gary informs me that Ben Pearson is Preston’s ‘one to watch’ before opting for a rather pessimistic score predication.
Injuries are a bit of a problem at the moment, but having said that there’s no disguising how awful we’ve been of late and our attacking play has been non-existent. Can only see a Norwich win so I’m going with Norwich 2 PNE 0.
Thank you to Gary for joining me for this week’s preview. Let’s wish Alex Neil and the Lilywhites the best of luck for the remainder of the season- except the two fixtures against Norwich though