Adam Lord's PNE pressview
IF it ain't broke, don't fix it.
A common mantra in many walks of life and one that I imagine the majority of Preston North End fans will hope applies to Simon Grayson’s team selection as they make the long trip down to Ipswich Town today.
The start of the season was becoming a bit of a hard luck tale as PNE came close to taking something from all three of their opening Championship games but ultimately came away with a hat-trick of defeats and no points to show for their efforts.
That all changed at Queens Park Rangers seven days ago as a near-perfect away display saw the Lilywhites leave the capital with a 2-0 win and a welcome three points.
It was a performance that saw PNE go back to what made them so hard beat last season and ultimately finish an impressive 11th on their return to English football’s second tier.
Hard to beat, with John Welsh making an impressive return at the base of the midfield and Tommy Spurr impressing on debut, North End also posed a real threat on the counter attack with Jermaine Beckford and Callum Robinson giving the QPR defence plenty to think about.
Make no mistake, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s men were well below par, the former Holland striker cutting a frustrated figure in his post-match press conference after a lacklustre performance from his side.
But this was just the tonic all at Deepdale needed as some got twitchy about a slow start to the season.
Now heading to East Anglia there seems no reason why it wouldn’t be a case of ‘same again’ from Grayson, the three at the back system, with Welsh in as the tackler, seeming to really complement many of Preston’s key man.
There are injury concerns, the PNE boss revealing that the senior figures apparently rested for the EFL Cup win over Oldham were in fact carrying injuries.
That would be a large part of the spine that shone against QPR with Anders Lindegaard, Bailey Wright, Paul Gallagher and Beckford all struggling according to Grayson, a man who likes to keep his cards close to his chest when it comes to the severity of injuries.
There’s sure to be a few fingers crossed that they are fit enough to feature at Portman Road.
Victory would turn what at one point had looked like being a worrying start to the season into a solid enough one, especially considering North End have also sealed their spot in the third round of the league cup, albeit being handed an epic trip down to Bournemouth.
A decent performance would I imagine send fans into the international break feeling pretty good after what has been a crazy opening month with PNE having to contend with seven games in 21 days.
Add to that the possibility of a couple of new faces before Wednesday’s transfer deadline then supporters will be impatient for the visit of Barnsley to Deepdale on September 10.
The often-used phrase that kicked off this column also applies to one of my pet peeves of the new football season.
Now not to sound like a grumpy old man, or too much of a football geek, I’m not honest, but why on earth did those at the top of the game, the International Football Association Board, feel the need to mess around with kick-offs of all things?
There’s plenty wrong with our so-called beautiful game, I haven’t got the column inches or the energy to go into FIFA and UEFA, but it was apparently the way a game begins that needed a tweak.
The rule change means the ball can now go in any direction from the opening whistle rather than having to go forwards, as had been norm for as long as anyone can remember.
That means the sight of two players tapping the ball to one another is a thing of a past, with one person standing by the ball and playing it backwards out of the centre circle now already a common sight at PNE kick-offs.
It just doesn’t look right. I never thought I’d long for the days of that aimless chip down the touchline going over a player’s head but I do.
Compared to some of the other changes this isn’t one that’s going to cause controversy however with others sure to make headlines in the weeks and months to come.
Players can now be sent off before the game even starts, while denying a goal-scoring opportunity is now not a straight red card if a genuine attempt has been made to play the ball.
Here’s hoping those know-it-all TV pundits have brushed up on their rulebook or their might be a few red faces.