Scott Laird says that Preston North End must rid themselves of the ‘draw specialists’ tag next season in order to make a push for automatic promotion.
Too many draws – 16 in all – saw them fall short of the top two in the campaign just finished.
And a 17th in the first leg of the play-off semi-final against Rotherham meant that they failed to make home advantage count.
PNE were hard to beat, with just seven defeats in the regular season, and turning more of the draws to wins would have strengthened their promotion hopes.
Lilywhites left-back Laird believes that boosting the win ratio can be achieved by being more ruthless or ‘nasty’ when they have sides on the ropes.
It was such an ingredient which carried Wolves, Brentford and Rotherham into the Championship this time.
Laird told the Evening Post: “The draws killed us last season, we will be honest about that – there is no getting away from that.
“We needed to be more ruthless in front of goal, something we were in some games towards the end of the season but not often enough.
“It is down to us to do that. As a team we defend from the front and so we attack from the back too.
“I only scored one goal in the season and should have had a few more.
“So individually and collectively we have to be more ruthless.
“Wolves and Brentford were putting plenty of goals past teams, while Rotherham scored a lot of goals.
“Teams who get promoted don’t hold back and don’t feel sorry for the opposition. They get a bit horrible, a bit ruthless and punish teams, finish them off and get the three points.
“Don’t get me wrong, there are loads things which we did right last season.
“We got 85 points in a tough division and had some really good results.
“But losing in the play-offs was horrible and it takes time to get your head around it.
“It is more than a fortnight on from the second leg against Rotherham and I’m still stewing it over.
“Next season we have to target automatic promotion.
“The play-offs are a lottery and Preston just don’t get the luck in them.
“We will come back stronger – the hurt of losing to Rotherham can drive us on.”
PNE report back for pre-season training on July 3, with five weeks of preparations ahead of the new campaign.
By then Laird will be a married man, with his big day next weekend – provided he survives his stag party in Dublin.
The 26 year-old said: “We have been planning the wedding for over a year and it is nice that it is getting closer.
“With the play-offs extending the season, it has crept up on us a bit.
“When we go on honeymoon I will be looking to sneak into the bar for a few of the World Cup games.
“I’m really chuffed for Bailey Wright that he has survived the first cut for the Australia squad and, fingers crossed, he will make the 23.
“If he does, I will have to get myself an Australia shirt and cheer him on.”