Ex-North End favourite Graham Alexander backs Preston for the Premier League

Former Preston captain Graham Alexander doesn’t see any reason why the Lilywhites won’t finally end their hoodoo by getting over the line in the Championship play-offs.

Saturday, 25th April 2020, 6:00 am
Graham Alexander

The Salford City boss, 48, who made more than 400 appearances over two spells at Deepdale, feels Alex Neil’s side have got as good a chance as any of their rivals of gaining promotion to the Premier League.

Prior to the season’s suspension, as the COVID-19 pandemic brought the country to a standstill, the club was clinging on to sixth spot in the second tier.

“I think they’ve got as good a chance as anybody,” said Alexander, who signed under David Moyes in 1999.

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“The team reminds me a lot of the team we had when we first came into the Championship. There are a lot of players who haven’t played at that higher level, they’re not the biggest names in the Championship, but they’re driven and ambitious with a manager who shares the same values.

“They’ve done it really well at North End, they’ve got a really good team with a very good manager. I don’t see why they can’t get that success.”

Alexander was knocking on the door of the top flight on several occasions at Preston. After gaining promotion from League One in his first season, he went on to play in no less than three play-off campaigns with the club.

The first, in 2001, ended in defeat at the hands of Bolton Wanderers at Wembley, they would then lose out to Bobby Zamora’s strike against West Ham United at the Millennium Stadium in 2005 and the following season they bowed out against Leeds United in the semi-final.

Alexander, who scored with the last kick of his career in North End’s 2-2 draw with Charlton Athletic in 2012, said: “It was a big part of why I never wanted to leave because it’s something we’d been chasing from the first season we got promoted into the Championship in 2000.

“We got to the play-off final the next year and then another play-off final three years after that and we were always knocking around the play-offs and promotion.

“I had always felt that it was our destiny to get there, unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Obviously I got promoted when I came to Burnley, then Blackpool were promoted the year after us,

Wigan have been there, Blackburn also, so all the clubs around Preston have been in the Premier League.

“You look at Deepdale as a stadium and you look at the history of the club, it would be great to see Preston in the Premier League one day.

“You have to earn the right on the pitch, nothing gives you a God-given right to get any success, but Preston have been unfortunate not to have taken that final step.”