Dave Seddon's PNE press view

A phrase often uttered by players and managers is: '˜That's football'.

Friday, 3rd June 2016, 6:00 pm
Josh Brownhill netting on his debut at Gillingham (photo: Dan Westwell)

It covers a multitude of sins, whether that be a moment of brilliance or madness on the pitch, a sacking or a freak result.

The phrase nicely covers this week’s exit of Josh Brownhill from Preston North End.

On Thursday, the young midfielder’s impending move to Bristol City was put into the public domain.

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On June 30, at the end of his contract, he will sever ties with the Lilywhites after the best part of five years on the books.

His decision to up sticks and head down the M5 has caused plenty of debate and angst on social media – probably more than any outgoing transfer from PNE in recent seasons.

Many have wished him well, a few were not so kind about his move to the West Country.

But that’s football – players come and go, and you might argue that it suited both parties.

In the long run, Brownhill might prove to be the one that got away from a Preston point of view, should he go on and flourish in the red half of Bristol.

On the flip side of the coin, PNE will rightly argue that they have progressed in the last 12 months without having the benefit of him in the team on a regular basis.

It is two-and-a-half years since Brownhill burst on to the first-team scene, aged just 17.

Two substitute appearances were followed by a goal on his full debut at Gillingham in October 2013.

The lad was a joy to interview that day, bubbling with excitement as he spoke of scoring in front of the away end where his proud parents had been sat.

He had a regular place in the side from there on in, and who can forget that fine swept finish on Boxing Day that year up at Carlisle, with him on the end of a move involving all 10 outfield Preston players?

Brownhill started often in the first half of the 2014/15 campaign before losing his way and form around the turn of the year, as is common with young players.

With Daniel Johnson arriving that January, it meant more of a backseat role for Brownhill over the coming months – a time in which PNE were promoted.

In the season just finished, he had to very much play second fiddle.

Others got into a position where it was difficult to dislodge them from midfield.

For a good chunk of the season, could anyone have argued against playing Paul Gallagher, Alan Browne and Johnson as an engine-room three?

In an ideal world, it would have been great to find a role for him – but who would you have left out?

True, Johnson’s form dipped in the last couple of months of the season, by which time Brownhill was away on loan.

His desire to go out and get games was natural. Barnsley gave him that chance, and what a loan spell it turned out to be.

He joined a Tykes side battling relegation and left them newly promoted to the Championship – a Wembley winner both in the League One play-off final and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

If Carlsberg did loans, that one was it for Brownhill.

During his time at Oakwell, no doubt the youngster’s thoughts turned to the future.

The opportunity presented itself for him to re-join Lee Johnson at Bristol City, the man who had taken him to Barnsley when in charge there.

One aspect which might not have left the nicest taste was the lack of a response from his people to PNE’s contract offer.

They say there was not even a, ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ reply to the two-year deal they put on the table.

Silence might have been a way of rejecting it but common courtesy does no harm. It will be interesting to see how Brownhill does at Ashton Gate and what kind of midfield role he is given.

That said, will he fare any better than if he had stayed with North End?

I’ve read comments that youth doesn’t get its chance at Deepdale.

The fact that Brownhill was playing at 17, the fact that Browne, Johnson, Ben Pearson, Bailey Wright and Jordan Hugill are regulars on the squad sheet, that Declan Rudd, Sam Johnstone, Jordan Pickford, Adam Reach and Callum Robinson have been on loan with North End, counters such an argument.

Best wishes go to Brownhill and I hope he does really well in the future.

Preston’s interests are protected to an extent with add-on payments and such like, in addition to the up-front six-figure training compensation fee.

Now it is time to move on – that’s football for you.