Spotlight On…Preston North End
Darren Ferguson`s former managerial side Preston North End are the latest team we focus on ahead of the League One campaign.
The Lilywhite`s had an excellent season just missing out on promotion.
Preston were certainly very consistent throughout the season and were in the top six throughout last season.
It was Simon Grayson's first full season in charge of the club and he saw his side begin the season with four league draws. Five straight wins then kicked off a sequence of results that saw them go undefeated until October.
North End only lost five league games in the latter half of the season and were pushing all the way for that final automatic promotion place.
A final day defeat at Crewe Alexandra saw the Lilyshite`s finish the League campaign in fifth place, despite being in third at the start of the match with Crewe. Had they won at Crewe, Preston would`ve faced Posh in the play-offs but as it stood, they had to play Rotherham United.
After a 1-1 draw at Deepdale, the Lilywhite`s had one eye on Wembley when they went 1-0 up in the second leg but two goals in 10 minutes around the half-hour mark and then a third goal in the 67th minute sealed victory for the Millers.
THE MANAGER - SIMON GRAYSON
Grayson is certainly a manager who has been there and got the t-shirt in League One after guiding both Blackpool and Huddersfield Town to play-off victories and he nearly made it a hat-trick last season. In his only other managerial position, at Leeds United, he went one better and earned automatic promotion to the Championship after finishing in second place.
Blackpool was his first managerial position, initially as caretaker manager following Colin Hendry`s departure. He managed to secure their League One status in that first season before transforming the team into play-off victors.
Grayson left in controversial circumstances after Leeds United had requested permission to speak to Grayson about their vacant managerial position only to be refused. Grayson then offered his resignation which was also refused but he left anyway to take up the Leeds job. Leeds and Blackpool eventually came to an agreement over compensation.
It was a good albeit controversial move as Grayson went one better than he did at Blackpool as he lead Leeds to second place and promotion to the Championship. He spent four years at Elland Road but was eventually sacked even though Leeds were within touching distance of the Championship play-offs with 18 matches remaining!
The Terriers was Grayson`s next managerial stop and another successful one. He`d only been in the manager`s chair for three months when he oversaw Huddersfield Town`s Play-Off victory against Sheffield United. Despite this initial success, Grayson was sacked less than 12 months after taking over the job after his side failed to win in 12 consecutive League matches.
It didn`t take him long to find his next role. Less than four weeks after leaving Huddersfield, he pitched up at Preston North End.
Grayson began his playing career with his local club Leeds United before moving on to play almost 200 times for Leicester City scoring four goals. He moved on to Aston Villa next before moving to Blackburn Rovers.
During his time at Rovers, he had loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday, Stockport County, Notts County and Bradford City. He finished his playing career at Blackpool when he decided to retire to concentrate on his successful managerial career.
VISITING THE GROUND?
Deepdale is one of the most historic stadiums in England and was opened in 1878. It has a capacity of nearly 23,500.
Away fans are housed in the modern Bill Shankly Kop at one end of the pitch. Normally the allocation for away fans is approximately half of this stand (3,000 seats). However for teams with a large away support, then the whole end can be allocated, raising the allocation to 6,000 - not that that will happen very often in League One!
Posh head north to Deepdale on a Tuesday night - 17th March, 2015.
Post Code for SAT NAV: PR1 6RU
Distance from London Road: 186 miles
SUMMER BUSINESS SO FAR
Preston are ringing the changes after making the play-offs last season. Eight players, including former captain John Mousinho, have been released by the club. The other players leaving are Iain Hume, Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, Nicky Wroe, Graham Cummins, Ryan Croasdale, Chris Beardsley and Alex Nicholson.
Cansdell-Sherriff finished the season on loan at Burton Albion and has since joined the League Two side. John Mousinho has also joined the Brewers. Striker Stuart Beavon has also left the Lilywhite`s for the Brewers but only on loan. He has joined League Two side on a season-long loan.
One man coming in on loan is Leicester City forward Paul Gallagher who has agreed a season-long loan deal. He spent most of last season on loan at Preston, scoring 10 goals in 35 appearances.
Teenage full-back Ben Davies has signed a two-year contract extension as has experienced midfielder Neil Kilkenny.
The squad rebuilding started with the signing of former Huddersfield Town defender Calum Woods who agreed terms on a two-year deal. This was followed by strikers Jordan Hugill from Port Vale and Andy Little who both signed two-year contracts.
Another piece of their jigsaw is winger Kyel Reid who has made the short journey from Bradford to pen a two-year deal.
THEY PLAYED FOR BOTH
As with most teams, there`s been numerous players to have represented both clubs.
Darren Ferguson has obviously managed both clubs and had Kevin Russell beside him whilst doing so. On moving to the Lilywhite`s, Fergie brought some Posh players with him including Paul Coutts and Craig Morgan.
Other players to have pulled on the shirt of both clubs include George Berry, Sean St Ledger, Mick Martin and Tony Philliskirk.
There have only been 21 competitive matches played between these two sides with all bar one match being in the League.
Posh have the better record with 9 League wins to the Lilywhites 5 wins. The one League Cup match played between the two sides ended in a 4-1 Lilywhites victory back in October 1960.
Last season, both sides won their respective home match. Posh won the first clash of last season 2-0 thanks to goals from Tyrone Barnett and Grant McCann inside the first 30 minutes. Posh were excellent in that first half but had to defend well as the Lilywhites came back strongly in the second half.
The return fixture saw Posh take the lead through Danny Swanson but some poor defending allowed the Lilywhites to score twice before wrapping up the goalscoring with a breakaway goal in added time.
The 3-1 scoreline was very flattering to the home side but it only emphasised the inconsistency and lack of concentration suffered by Posh throughout the majority of this season.
WHAT THE BOOKIES THINK
Not surprisingly, the bookies have the Lilywhites as one of the favourites to win League One. They are second favourites at 8/1 for the title and 5/2 to win promotion to the Championship.
They have odds of 5/6 to finish in the top six this season while they have odds of 33/1 to be relegated (which we can`t see happening!).
UP THE POSH
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Photo courtesy of www.theposhpics.com
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