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Big summer ahead for Lowe's reshaped Preston - Interview
Thursday, 7th Apr 2022 19:55 by Clive Whittingham

It's a big summer rebuild ahead for Preston North End and promising young manager Ryan Lowe in his first Championship gig, but our regular Deepdale Digest correspondent Josh McLoughlin and the rest of the PNE fans did have a midweek derby win against Blackpool to tide them over.

How would you assess your season overall?

Season started off very slowly for us. I think we all knew deep down Frankie McAvoy wasn’t the right man to take his forward. I think even he knew that as well. The summer transfer window turned out to be a disaster with Connor Wickham, Izzy Brown and Jamie Thomas not starting one league game between them. Matthew Olusunde has only started once as well. Thing have picked up since Ryan Lowe’s arrival and at one stage it looked like we had an outside chance of making a push for the play-offs. The huge highlights for us have been the loans of Daniel Iversen, Sepp van den Berg and Cameron Archer who all look set for great careers in the game. Overall the season has been one of transition and there will be big changes in the summer

PNE league results so far…
Preston 1-4 Hull City Riis 8 – Lewis-Potter 35, Smallwood 62, Magennis 85, Cannon 90
Reading 2-1 Preston Azeez 28, Swift 69 – Johnson pen 61
Huddersfield 1-0 Preston van den Berg og 74
Preston 1-0 Peterborough Bauer 14
Preston 3-1 Swansea van den Berg 21, Riis 45, Whiteman 52 – Piroe 19
Bristol City 0-0 Preston
Sheff Utd 2-2 Preston Gibbs-White 7, Berge 84 - Johnson 19, Riis 90
Preston 1-1 West Brom Whiteman 26 – Phillips 45
Birmingham 0-0 Preston
Preston 1-1 Stoke Whiteman 38 – Powell 6
QPR 3-2 Preston Dykes 17, Dunne 71, Chair 74 – Ris 27, Earl 46
Preston 0-0 Derby
Preston 2-1 Coventry Bauer 61, Riis 69 – Walker 45
Blackpool 2-0 Preston Anderson 27, Madine 68
Preston 2-0 Luton Riis 27, pen 45
Bournemouth 1-2 Preston Billing 60 – Whiteman 52, McCann 78
Forest 3-0 Preston Grabban pen 32, 70, Colback 41
Preston 1-2 Cardiff Maguire 2 – McGuinness 51, Collins 66
Boro 1-2 Preston McNair 33 – Evans 77, Riis 88
Preston 1-1 Fulham Evans 71 – Ream 15
Blackburn 1-0 Preston Brereton 53
Preston 2-1 Barnsley Browne 57, Johnson 78 – Woodrow 65
Stoke 1-2 Preston Wilmot 46 – Potts 59, Hughes 81
Preston 1-1 Birmingham Bauer 31 – Hogan 86
Preston 2-2 Sheff Utd Browne 71, Riis 89 – Bogle 17, Sharp pen 39
Swansea 1-0 Preston Manning 51
West Brom 0-2 Preston Riis 41, Archer 76
Preston 2-2 Bristol City Riis 52, 90 – Martin 12, Semenyo 81
Millwall 0-0 Preston
Hull 0-1 Preston Archer 51
Preston 0-0 Huddersfield
Peterborough 0-1 Preston Archer 80
Preston 2-3 Reading Johnson 54, Archer 74 – Joao 2, 19, Swift 55
Preston 0-0 Forest
Coventry 1-1 Preston Tavares 90 – Johnson pen 89
Preston 2-1 Bournemouth Archer 54, Riis 89 – Lowe 50
Cardiff 0-0 Preston
Luton 4-0 Preston Berry 9, 42, Onyedinma 28, Diaby og 59
Derby 1-0 Preston Morrison 80
Preston 1-0 Blackpool Archer 45

How has Ryan Lowe done since taking over?

Ryan Lowe started off really well losing only one of his first eleven matches. There was more desire from the team and he got the fans back in aide straight away. It suddenly became a lot more enjoyable to be a Preston North End fan and there were a few memorable away wins early on. Things began to stutter though and as the season is fizzling out some players have looked like they are already on their holidays. The win over Blackpool on Tuesday was hugely needed and hopefully we can end the season with a few more wins

What has he changed? What sort of style and shape can we expect from Preston this weekend?

We play a 3-5-2 formation but we don’t really have any natural wing-backs in the squad. Brad Potts has been the preferred choice at RWB and has done really well there to be fair to him. The back three have looked settled. Andrew Hughes, Patrick Bauer and Sepp van den Berg have all had solid seasons. The midfield three of Alan Browne, Daniel Johnson and Ben Whiteman pretty much pick themselves but are very hit and miss with their performances. On their day they can be some of the best midfielders in the league but that is few and far between. We aim to get the ball into the strikers feet as Emil Riis and Cameron Archer are very handy, fast players who love to get a quick shot away. There has been improvements in our style of play under Lowe but he’ll want his own players to make it a better fit

What January business did you do? What did you need to do?

January business consisted of getting Cameron Archer on loan from Aston Villa and he has been a revelation. Six goals in 12 starts including the winner against Blackpool ensuring he will be remembered for years to come. There is hope he will return next season but Villa may want to use him or he could have much better offers than us. Bambo Diaby was also given a contract until the end of the season after training with us whilst finishing off his ban from football for taking banned substances. He’s looked decent in his games so far. Likely to get a longer deal. Wing backs were probably the priority in January but we will have to wait until the summer now.

Summer Ins: >>> Ali McCann, 21, CM, St Johnstone, £1.2m >>> Liam Lindsay, 25, CB, Stoke, Undisclosed >>> Jamie Thomas, 24, CF, Bamber Bridge, Free >>> Izzy Brown, 24, AM, Chelsea, Free >>> Matthew Olosunde, 23, RB, Rotherham, Free >>> Connor Wickham, 28, CF, Unattached, Free >>> Josh Murphy, 26, LW, Cardiff, Loan >>> Daniel Iversen, 24, GK, Leicester, Loan >>> Sepp van den Berg, 20, CB, Liverpool, Loan

Summer Outs: >>> Jayden Stockley, 29, ST, Charlton, Undisclosed >>> Billy Bodin, 29, LW, Oxford, Free >>> Josh Ginnelly, 24, LW, Hearts, Free >>> Graham Burke, 27, AM, Shamrock Rovers, Free >>> Louis Moult, 29, ST, Burton, Free >>> Paul Gallagher, 36, AM, Retired >>> David Nugent, Old as fuck, ST, Released >>> Jacob Holland-Wilkinson, 18, CF, Fylde, Loan >>> Ethan Walker, 19, LW, Fylde, Loan >>> Tom Bayliss, 22, CM, Wigan, Loan

Winter Ins >>> Cameron Archer, 20, CF, Villa, Loan >>> Bambo Diaby, 24, CB, Unattached, Free

Winter Outs >>> Connor Wickham, 28, CF, MK Dons, Free >>> Jordan Storey, 24, CB, Sheff Wed, Loan >>> Josh Harrop, 26, AM, Fleetwood, Loan >>> Adam O’Riley, 20, CM, St Pat’s, Loan >>> Connor Ripley, 28, GK, Salford, Loan >>> Matthew Hudson, 23, GK, Loan, Bamber Bridge >>> Jamie Thomas, 25, CF, Halifax, Loan >>> Jack Baxter, 20, CM, Radcliffe, Loan >>> Declan Rudd, 31, GK, Retired Injured

Player of the season candidates?

Player of the year candidates would be between Daniel Iversen, Sepp van den Berg and Andrew Hughes. Emil Riis has rapidly improved this season and is currently on 17 goals in all competitions. But his performances have been inconsistent, plenty more to come from him though.

For me Hughes has been reliable throughout and gets the nod. More of a left-back he has made the left sided role in the back three his own. Great in the air and in both boxes, he’s really stepped up this season which is his fourth at the club. The Welshman is a key part of this team going forward under Lowe and I don’t think many would have expected that at the start of the season.

Weak links in the team?

Weak links come from the lack of squad depth. Our first choice eleven I can’t really complain too much about that. A few injuries leaves us without much quality stepping up take their place. Some players who have been at the club a while will probably move on in the summer. Given their all but not at the level we need to progress. Sean Maguire, Joe Rafferty, Josh Earl and Liam Lindsay are in that category. Whereas injury prone players are weak links too. Tom Barkhuizen has barely been available this season and is unlikely to see his contract renewed. As things stand in the summer we won’t have a goalkeeper at the club with loans and contracts expiring so that will be a priority.

Ownership situation following the sad death of the chairman?

Ownership situation has been a bit strange of late. Chris Kirchener looked to be close to taking over the club. An offer was accepted but then he came back with a lower offer and it’s now completely fallen through. It may be a blessing, despite the excitement from fans perhaps his background isn’t the best. Plus he’s now crawled back to trying to buy Derby County after a failed attempt previously. Right now the club remains with the Hemmings family, with Trevor’s son Craig in charge of it. I think they are happy to still run the club but will always be open to considering serious offers for the club

Expectations for the remaining games and then into next season?

Expectations for the remainder of the season are low really. We usually struggle at this stage of there isn’t anything to play for. We’re stuck in mid table mediocrity. The Blackpool game was the big one for us and a win over Blackburn Rovers at home in a couple of weeks will be ideal too. For next season, it’s a chance for Lowe to stamp his mark on the squad. I’m hopeful and with a few good additions you’ve always got to have an eye on sneaking a play-off spot in this division

Links >>> Official Website >>> Lancashire Telegraph – Local Press >>> From The Finney – Blog >>> Deepdale Digest – Blog >>> PNE Online – Forum

The Twitter @loftforwords, @Josh_McLoughlin

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TacticalR added 14:19 - Apr 9
Thanks to Josh.

Preston seem to have been Championship stalwarts forever, so it's interesting to see even they can have an up and down season.

I wonder how we will get on against a team that plays 3 at the back like us? Archer sounds on form so we will have to keep an eye on him.

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