Exclusive Sean Gregan column

Tom Clarke shoots for goal only to see his effort handled by Port Vale's Richard Duffy on Friday night
Tom Clarke shoots for goal only to see his effort handled by Port Vale's Richard Duffy on Friday night
Share this article
0
Have your say

It’s good to talk and players who do their share of talking on the pitch at this stage of the season are worth their weight in gold.

As Preston go into their last three games, Simon Grayson will be looking for the more experienced lads, whether they are starting games or on the bench, to get around the dressing room and help guide the ones who haven’t been in this position before.

During games, you need talkers out there, keep that line of communication and encouragement going.

I was always one to open my mouth during games. When I got to the last few years of my career and slowed down – I was never the quickest to start with – I would sit deep and basically talk my team-mates through matches.

Talkers are a dying breed in the game, maybe that is due to the way academies are set up nowadays.

In the past when you were a trainee, you would sweep the terraces, clean the dressing rooms, build your character that way.

Opponents in reserves games included senior lads with hundreds of games under their belts .

Nowadays it is all Under-21s football against players their own age.

For me, that does not breed the characters which you do need in football.

One of the things I pull up the lads at Darlington for is not talking during games.

I’ll ask them why they will chat up a girl in a nightclub but won’t talk to their mates on the pitch?

It goes without saying that North End have not made it easy for themselves in terms of promotion after their draws against Gillingham and Port Vale. But I would still rather be in their position than that of MK Dons.

That point lead which PNE have, could prove so valuable over the next three games.

I’m not being biased but I really do think that North End have what it takes to win their last three.

They are unbeaten in 16 games, although a problem has been too many draws rather than defeats.

Looking at the Gillingham game, the late equaliser from the visitors was out of nothing.

It was not really one which you could get the video out and pull things to pieces.

Their lad has just banged a freak ball into the box from out of nowhere – I doubt he will do that in his career again.

It has landed right on Leon Legge’s head and into the net it went.

Against Port Vale on Friday night it was all about penalties in the second half.

With the referee having given one at each end, North End needed to be so careful around their box and sadly they were not.

It is about game management, seeing out a match when you have a lead.

Ideally you push on and try and get another goal but if that doesn’t happen, you have got to know when to slow things down, when to break up play.

At times it might not be pretty but it has to be done.

In Simon Grayson, I’m of the opinion that North End have got exactly the right man to get them over the line.

I’ve played under managers who have done strange things when you are in promotion runs or relegation fights.

Win a game and a manager can suddenly give you three days off as a reward. Another might have you in the next day.

I see Grayson as a very level-headed manager, not getting carried away with a win but not getting too down if they don’t get the result they want.

Notts County on Tuesday night is a massive game, fingers crossed for a victory.