Alex Neil, manager of Preston North End, knows that results need to go up and is just as frustrated as anyone by his side, but at the same time he is not particularly surprised.
The Lilywhites had a difficult year in 2021, slipping to 16th place in the championship table with nine defeats in the league since the turn of the year.
Several supporters commented on social media that a change of manager is needed, but North End has stuck to the bulkheads so far.
This weekend’s game against Luton Town – ahead of an international break that preceded tough testing against Norwich, Swansea and Brentford – is a huge game for PNE.
Before the game, the manager answered several questions about the current situation in Deepdale.
On the subject of matching items
On the subject of matching items
Right now, is it a situation where you don’t need someone to tell you that you are under pressure to get results?
“I’m being honest with you, I don’t feel any pressure from anywhere any more than I feel pressure from myself,” said Neil. “Regardless of what anyone thinks, I’ve been in the game all my life and if you’re a natural competitor you don’t need anyone to tell you.
“Because you trust me and see how bad people are feeling, I feel a lot worse because I am aware of the burden I have on this club, the fans, the players and everyone associated with Preston to get results for them. ” .
“I don’t lose that, so I don’t want anyone to think for a second that I’m sitting and think that it’s not all my fault – that’s a million, million miles from where I am.”
If you’ve been up there in the past fighting for the play-offs with this club, how painful is it to see the team on the other end and fight?
“Really difficult, yes,” said Neil. “I’m a proud guy and for me during my managerial career, certainly in the championship, I generally fought in that top half so it was frustrating.
“But I think, and I said at the beginning, that this would be a transition season – it didn’t make the results worse. I warned about that because I was afraid the results would get worse, I could see it. ” Come.
“It’s been a tough year for us but I think then you learn a lot about yourself, the people who support you, the players and how much bottle they have – that comes into play.
“Football will never be easy sailing. You have to fight, you don’t get anything and, as we know, there have been a lot of managers where you can be up on the mountain in a minute and the next.” I’m down
“That can happen within six months – you look at Chris Wilder – and I think right now I have to get myself back on the mountain.”
Is there anything you would have done differently in the past 12 months regardless of all the things outside of the field?
“It’s difficult in terms of management this year was unlike any other year I’ve had,” said Neil. “Regarding Covid, the lack of camaraderie to bring – we had guys showing up with gear on, walking in, doing their training on the field and jumping straight back into a car to leave – they couldn’t even eat here.
“There were so many different periods during the season – there were things that I would have done differently, but I’m not sure how much that would have had an impact.
“To be honest, I don’t really want to go into that because there are some parts that I couldn’t really talk about, so I’ll leave it there.”
Are there too many players out of shape right now?
“I’ve talked about this at length and I don’t want to go into the point, but I used the word at the top of the window – I said if you change too much it’s dangerous,” Neil told BBC Radio Lancashire. “The reason I used that word is because I look back on Hull last year – they lost two great players and fell like an absolute stone.
“You can’t afford to lose your best players and you can’t afford to lose too many of them at once. There has been too much churn for my liking, January is a dangerous time for that because you have so many guys come in at the same time.
“It’s difficult for them individually, but it’s difficult for the team because they don’t really know each other. And let’s be honest, we as a team and club are not strong enough – we are not a team that went under and we can do it afford to make five or six changes because we have people who are worth £ 20 / £ 30 million who can do it individually.
“Our greatest asset was our togetherness, our camaraderie and our team spirit. That will be greatly watered down if you do what we had to do in this window.
This camaraderie, is that something you only rediscover through time and win games together?
“Yeah, and what’s also difficult is that we’ve been doing team-building things on a regular basis – we’ve done activities, we’ve gone to places, and we can’t do any of that now,” said Neil. “So that certainly doesn’t help. I know it’s a little old-fashioned and a little bit set back, but the guys just go out together and socialize – through decades and decades of football that has been an integral part of British culture in football.
“I’m not talking about going out and deepening yourself, just going out and socializing, being together, in each other’s company – because when you feel just as responsible for someone next to you as you are a part of yourself and you something bigger than you, then you know you have a real team.
“I think it’s difficult when you have so many guys from different clubs and you have to do it in such a short time.
“That’s the first thing you want to do, even if you sign a player, you really want to make sure they settle in. The difficulty of settling down right now isn’t easy for a young guy to get away because you can’t are.” I am really not allowed to go up and down any more. You don’t get any visitors, so these guys train and then sit in an apartment or a hotel room – that was certainly a big, big difference. “
Do you build the same affinity with a club when you’re a manager versus a player and you’ve been somewhere for a long time?
“Of course you do,” said Neil. “I spend more time with the players than with my own children. They obviously want them to do well in life and on the field.”
“You build close relationships with people and take care of people – there’s nothing worse than walking in and seeing someone sad or when something bad has happened.
“It’s going to be a bit of family as you are going to have tough times, but you have to stick together. The minute that is broken is when you have the biggest problems.”
“And listen, you could see the togetherness in Middlesbrough the other night – things played out against us but we just have to go again.”
One thing that was discovered on Tuesday was that the entire team was warming up together. Was that your idea
“Yes, that was a conscious choice in the fact that we’re going to need them all,” said Neil. “It’s not just about the guys on the pitch or in the starting XI, we will need everyone who is pulling in the same and right direction.”
“So we should make sure that everyone involved is involved in every step of the process.”
Do you need to use your experience of good and bad as a manager as you go through a time like this?
“Obviously I played along loudly in our downturn as it came about and if I’m honest it’s probably gotten worse than I would have hoped, but it’s not a big surprise to me – in terms of our not being like that are.” good as before, “Neil told Radio Lancs.
“You can’t afford to lose players to Bournemouth and Liverpool. The two Bens were arguably the top two top players here on a consistent basis. Paul Gallagher has been a consistently top player for a long time. Patrick Bauer has been phenomenal recently. ” This season, Darnell Fisher was the best drawer since he was here.
“You can’t take everyone off your team at the same time and expect them to be this good – it will never happen. People may not like that, but I don’t care, it’s not rocket science.”