Sean Gregan’s exclusive PNE column

PNE midfielder Paul Gallagher sees a shot charged down by Ali Al Habsi and Tennai Watson
PNE midfielder Paul Gallagher sees a shot charged down by Ali Al Habsi and Tennai Watson
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You could say that Preston North End’s opening-day defeat against Reading mirrored parts of last season.

They only conceded one goal but were frustrated up front and could not find the target.

It always looked like being a strange first game for PNE, with Reading being somewhat of an unknown quantity under Jaap Stam.

This is Stam’s first job as a manager in England and until you see how his side played in a competitive game, it would have been hard to fathom them out.

I did regard Stam as being a strange appointment but who knows? He could turn out to be a god one.

Reading didn’t pull up any trees last season so maybe he is what they need.

The North End fans will be wondering if there are going to be more goals this season.

Perhaps Simon Grayson is hoping that now he is back fit, Jermaine Beckford can find the form he showed during the promotion season.

Beckford was a big miss last season and hopefully it isn’t too long before he starts hitting the back of the net on a regular basis.

There are still three more weeks of the transfer window left if Grayson wants to do some more business.

The right-back position needs some attention after the injury to Calum Woods and also with Tom Clarke limping off at Reading.

What North End don’t need to do after Saturday’s defeat is panic in any shape or form.

It is a long season and some teams start better than others.

When I was at Preston, we got beaten 5-0 on the first day by Gillingham in 2001 – the old play-off hangover excuse!

Hopefully, they can beat Hartlepool in the League Cup on Tuesday night and take some confidence from that into two tough games against Fulham and Derby at home in the Championship.

There is no doubt that the Championship is going to be a tough division this season.

Three big-hitters are down from the Premier League and seem determined to spend their parachute money.

I must admit that I’m not a big fan of clubs getting their parachute payments.

In my eyes, it is a reward for failure.

At the end of this season, the three clubs relegated from the top flight will get £87m-worth of parachute money over three years.

The idea initially was to help clubs get their wage bill in order after relegation.

Over the years, the amount of money has gone up and up, to the extent clubs don’t have to worry any more when they get relegated.

There will come a point where players don’t need to be off-loaded and wages don’t need to be cut, because the parachute money is massive.

They can just throw that cash at a promotion bid, while other clubs are having to abide by Financial Fair Play rules.

It seems that the system is now aimed at helping clubs go straight back up rather than helping them adjust to being outside the Premier League.

If we don’t watch it, the top flight will become something of a closed shop with the same clubs bobbing up and down, always with the safety net of huge parachute money.

It has been reported that one of the Newcastle players is still on £80,000 a week in the Championship.

There was no clause in his contract to take a wage cut when they were relegated, parachute money enabling them to meet that cost.

More people in the game are starting to voice concern about it but I doubt the rules will change.