Craig Salmon’s PNE press view

Joe Garner is always quick to praise his PNE team-mates

Joe Garner is always quick to praise his PNE team-mates

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After many years of heartache, Preston supporters can finally revel in the ‘glory’ of being Lancashire’s ‘top team’.

I cannot say I know this for certain but I bet it’s been a long time – perhaps decades – since PNE fans have stared at the four English league tables and found themselves above neighbours Blackburn Rovers and Burnley, as well as deadly rivals Blackpool, all at the same time.

While it may only be three games into the season – and, of course, a lot can change in the ensuing months – there is a real sense of optimism around Deepdale at the moment.

After relegation from the Championship in 2011 and the unhappy managerial spells of Phil Brown and Graham Westley, North End fans can be forgiven for thinking that a little bit of success – however small – is long overdue.

The pain of losing in the League One play-offs in 2014 and missing out on automatic promotion last season has been replaced by the joy of the Wembley win over Swindon in May and the subsequent fine start to this season.

Certainly, North End have carried over the momentum from last season and are fiercely determined to establish themselves at this level once more.

It is clear to see just by being among the squad on press days at their Springfield training base that team spirit and camaraderie has played a major part in the team’s good results of late.

Having ‘a good dressing room’ is a term which gets bandied about all over the place by different clubs.

Many times at some clubs you are left wondering if the team spirit is as good as what is being suggested.

I am not saying for one minute that everything is always rosy in the PNE dressing room, but it’s quite apparent that they are a 
close -knit bunch.

Striker Joe Garner grabs a lot of the attention simply because of the amount of goals he has scored, but in interviews he is quick to deflect any praise towards his team-mates.

And the way virtually every member of the squad rushed to congratulate a prominent member of the club’s media team – who had recently got married and been away on honeymoon – indicates a down-to-earth bunch.

With the transfer window due to close a week on Wednesday, it will be interesting to see if Grayson looks to bolster his squad ahead of deadline day.

The PNE boss has indicated there is money available to spend, but his eyebrows were more than a little raised when he was asked about the £9million bid this week by Bristol City – a team promoted alongside North End last season – for Brentford striker Andre Gray.

The player has since rejected that move and appears to be heading to North End’s Lancashire rivals for a slightly less £6million.

Out of Preston’s team which started against Rotherham, only midfielder Daniel Johnson cost the club money in terms of a transfer fee, and even then it was loose change in comparison to the money being offered for Gray this week

“It’s staggering that a team which was in League One with us last year can go and bid that kind of money,” Grayson said.

“But everybody to their own really. They have decided that is the market they are going to go down and can do.

“It has surprised a lot of people, but you have got to cut your cloth accordingly.

“I was given a budget that we needed to work within and so far we have brought in some good quality players.

“I think the players that we have brought in have not cost us any money apart from wages but they have shown what they are capable of doing.

“The hardcore of players that we had from last year have stepped up so far.

“We have offered money for players and hopefully that will still be the case in the future, but it certainly won’t be anything like the Bristol City money.

“The market does seem to have gone crazy.

“People are paying over the odds because everybody is after a similar type of player.”