Preston North End chairman Peter Ridsdale has sought to reassure fans that the club’s fortunes will take a turn for the better.
North End’s season sank to its lowest ebb on Tuesday night in the wake of the awful 3-1 defeat to Brentford at Deepdale, a performance both Ridsdale and Graham Westley described as ‘embarrassing’.
It leaves them still chasing points to ensure their League One status as they enter a tough run of fixtures, starting in front of the Sky cameras at promotion-chasing Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday lunchtime.
Their April fixture list includes games against MK Dons, Stevenage, Huddersfield and Charlton, who all have either automatic promotion or play-off pushes on their agenda.
Westley took some fearsome stick from supporters both during and after the Brentford game, with PNE having registered only two victories under his control.
His job doesn’t appear to be under immediate threat, Ridsdale at pains to point out the high turnover of managers there has been at Deepdale in recent years.
But there clearly needs to be an upturn in results and the standard of performances to prevent a further slide down the table, for Westley to mend his relationship with sections of the crowd – and ultimately survive.
Ridsdale told the Evening Post: “The message I’d like to get across to the fans is that Trevor Hemmings hired me to sort this club out.
“That’s not just the finances, it’s performances on the field too, and I take that job very seriously indeed.
“Like everyone who was at Deepdale on Tuesday night, I was embarrassed and very disappointed with the performance.
“As chairman, it’s my responsibility to make sure we give the supporters what they want.
“What I do appeal for is some patience from the fans as we try to sort things out.
“It might not be something we can instantly turn around, but we’ll be doing all that we can.
“My brief is to put together a successful football club. Mr Hemmings has been very supportive of me in doing that, as he was before my arrival.
“I felt the same disappointment as the fans against Brentford – we value them and their support, and we all saw the same things on the pitch on Tuesday night.
“We will get it right – I won’t rest until we build a winning side.”
Ridsdale did a lot of listening and talking following the midweek defeat.
He spoke with club owner Hemmings at length by phone both immediately after the game and again yesterday morning.
And there were discussions with Westley both before and after the PNE manager conducted his post-match press conference.
Said Ridsdale: “I’ve got to point out that we’ve had three managers this season – if you count Graham Alexander and David Unsworth as one during the time they were joint caretakers. Since September 24, we’ve won two home games under the three different managerial teams.
“We can’t keep changing managers and it’s the playing side we have to look at.
“The focus has to be on getting enough points to be safe this season and then taking the opportunity to make the necessary changes to the squad in the summer.”
l Ridsdale will take part in a question-and-answer session at a meeting of the PNE North Lancs Supporters’ Club, at Skerton Liberal Club, Lancaster, on Monday, April 16, at 7.30pm.
Tickets for the game at Oldham will be available on the night, with the supporters’ club hoping to have enough interest to run a coach to Boundary Park.
l North End have allocated the whole of the Bill Shankly Kop to Huddersfield fans for the visit of the promotion-cashing Terriers to Deepdale on April 14.
Season ticket holders will be able to transfer their seat to other areas of the ground.