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When the final whilst blew at the dreary Majedski stadium back in May, most Preston fans would have been delighted to see the back of one of the worst seasons in over a decade. Fast forward a World Cup exit for England that rather mirrored PNE’s season – boring football, uninterested players and one paced centre halves, and the new football season is once more upon us.
Pre-season has shown a mixed bag of results, as is usually the case. The major difference this time was the large number of youngsters Darren Ferguson gave playing time too. Whether the likes of McLoughlin, Wright, Miller, Dougan and Proctor continue to make the first team squad when the season begins is yet unknown, as the “three or four” Ferguson was quoted as needing before August 7th have yet to materialise.
Regardless there is still a more upbeat feeling around Deepdale now many of the overpaid and under talented members of the squad have moved on to pastures new and whilst some still lurk, they won’t be seen in a Preston shirt again. Couple this with the incomings of Hayes, Brown, Morgan and Gray who are all a step up on whom they’ve replaced and the team is taking shape. With the capture of Darrel Russell then bar cover at left back, it is only in the striking department that North End look short.
It has been well documented the manager has run his eye over a couple of trialists in that area but whether either is offered a contract remains to be seen. It would appear his first choice of loaning either Vaughan at Everton or one of the Manchester United young forwards have all hit dead ends. It is vitally important he is able to strengthen the forward line as Brown and Parkin are not the type of players that Paul Hayes will excel with. Plus a Jon Parkin who’s missed all of pre-season is not going to be “match fit” till about December, unless he bins off the booze and cigs.
Despite a tough start to his career at Deepdale, I have been very impressed with Ferguson’s approach to bringing this football club back to life and it is crucial he is able to finalise his squad before the transfer window shuts to allow him to truly put his own mark on the team. Whilst many people view the division as very wide open with no real outstanding candidates for promotion, the same can be said for the other end too as Millwall, Leeds and Norwich will all believe themselves far better than relegation fodder. It is important that North End survive this season and look for a midtable position to allow Ferguson to continue his work on bringing through up and coming talent at low costs, as well as keeping the club in a far healthier shape wage wise too. The biggest worry is a slow start to the season with a wafer thin squad could destroy morale and see certain sections of the crowd turn on him, which would be extremely unjust given what has gone on in the past six months. He doesn’t need millions but he needs to be backed for just a handful more that could make or break this season. But will it happen?
After browsing the infuriating PNE Online, it seems some are loath to believe a bad word against Maurice Lindsay, but why? He has zero credentials as a football chairman so can solely be judged on what he has done to date at Preston North End. Whilst he speaks very well in the few interviews he gave upon his appointment, the cull of players we have seen over the summer have all been the work of Darren Ferguson who named his nine man transfer list back in May, well before Lindsay appeared on the scene. He is right to keep the purse strings tight but he needs to realise a small squad is twenty, not fifteen. The new sponsorship with Tennants orchestrated by Hemmings and Lindsay is a great coup for the club and has already brought in a seven figure sum. Whilst they may not have the football background, they clearly do have the business brains PNE have been lacking in recent times.
In the long term I hope, as I’m sure we all do, that Lindsay turns out to be a shrewd appointment by Trevor Hemmings as he clearly will not let costs spiral out of control like Derek Shaw. But sometimes you can look so far into the future you can forget what’s happening in the present, and as Ferguson prepares to take the smallest squad in the Championship up against Doncaster Rovers in a matter of days, the manager desperately needs further help before the month is out. This is not a slight on Lindsay or Hemmings, just a warning that too much too soon with cost cutting could well have the opposite affect they want.
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