Sean gregan’s exclusive column

Preston North End's Alan Browne shields the ball from Barnsley's Josh Scowen
Preston North End's Alan Browne shields the ball from Barnsley's Josh Scowen
Share this article
0
Have your say

After a poor defeat for Preston North End at Cardiff last Tuesday night, it was important they did not lose against Barnsley.

Ideally, they would have won at Oakwell but a point on the board was not the worst result in the world.

Looking at North End’s team, Simon Grayson went for quite a physical side to make it hard for Barnsley to play and most importantly, made sure there was not a repeat of the performance at Cardiff.

Sometimes you can have a bad night like you got down in South Wales, I played in quite a few in my career.

In games you can get away with one or two lads having an off night, but when seven or eight don’t perform, you get what is coming to you.

Preston and Barnsley both played a 4-4-2 which is quite unusual these days.

It is a formation I like and played many games in but the trend in recent years has been for 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 or even a 3-4-3 which we are seeing more of in the Premier League this season.

In a way, North End and Barnsley cancelled each other out with the same system.

When you play the same way, it is all about a bit of skill or clever play coming to the fore to make a difference.

Tactially you can change things, put an extra player in midfield to get an overload there.

But that would either mean losing a bit of width if you moved a winger inside or dropping a striker back and going one up front.

For me, the main thing was that Preston didn’t turn one defeat into two.

However, the gap is growing between them and the top six.

There is now a 12-point gap between them and Leeds in fifth spot and they are seven behind Sheffield Wednesday is sixth.

To close that gap would mean a big winning run and others to drop points.

It is not impossible but would be tough to achieve and teams who haven’t lost many games this season would suddenly have to hit a dramatic slide.

North End now have two home games coming up in four days against Brentford and Birmingham.

They have got to look at picking up a minimum of four points from those two.

All six would be nice and two wins would certainly help close the gap.

Away from the pitch, the transfer window closed last week with big money spent on British players in the Championship.

Jordan Rhodes joining Sheffield Wednesday for £10m from Middlesbrough and Scott Hogan leaving Brentford to go to Aston Villa for £12m, were two of the eye-catching deals.

The Championship is now a big market for many British players as the Premier League clubs continue to look abroad.

I still think North End were right to reject offers they got for Jordan Hugill as with the right work and coaching, his value will continue to grow.