Exclusive Sean Gregan PNE column

Preston can be very pleased with their 11th-place finish this season and it gives them plenty to build on for next year.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 8th May 2016, 5:00 pm
Preston North End's Marnick Vermijl battles with Leeds United's Alex Mowatt
Preston North End's Marnick Vermijl battles with Leeds United's Alex Mowatt

They ended the campaign with a decent enough 1-1 draw against Leeds at Deepdale, a game involving two of my old clubs.

While they took a little bit of time to find their feet in the division, there has been steady progress for much of the time.

Look at some of the clubs they have finished above – Leeds, Wolves, Blackburn, Fulham and Reading, all have much bigger budgets.

I dare say two of the clubs who were relegated had far higher wage bills.

The thing to look at now is what the target should be for next season.

Having finished 11th, they will want to at least push on a couple more places and maybe challenge for the play-offs.

It will be a tough division, with Aston Villa already down and maybe Newcastle United and Norwich City.

Where I’m sure Simon Grayson will want to improve on is the goals tally.

He will no doubt have his eye on a goalscorer or two, in the hope of giving Jermaine Beckford and Joe Garner some competition.

That said, every club in the country is after a goalscorer and it is a difficult market.

I think Beckford being fully fit next season will be a big boost.

He might not have had his best game against Leeds but there have been signs over the last few weeks that he is starting to find his sharpness after the long injury lay-off.

The goalkeeper situation is one which Grayson will also be addressing in the summer.

After a succession of loan keepers, who have been very good, it is probably time to put a No.1 in place.

If they can the right one and get him settled in, it can make a big difference.

As for the rest of the squad, it doesn’t need major surgery, far from it in fact.

Grayson has built up a good team spirit within the dressing room – he has got a good core of lads who will put a shift in every time they step on to the pitch.

A big thing which Preston have had recently is stability in the managerial department, something which Saturday’s opponents Leeds, haven’t had.

It looks like Steve Evans is on his way out and yet another head coach will be coming in over the summer.

A continual chopping and changing of managers or head coaches just doesn’t work.

The most successful clubs tend to have a lot of stability in terms of the manager.

That time they are afforded gives them the chance to build a squad and build success.

PNE got through a few managers in quick succession and that ultimately saw them relegated and then struggle for a couple of years in League One.

Grayson has now been in the Deepdale hotseat for more than three years and Preston’s progress speaks for itself.

He got them stable in League One, then they had the season where they got to the play-off semi-finals.

Last season was promotion and now they have just had a very good first season in the Championship.

There has been progress every season and hopefully that continues.

That is the type of stability needed at Leeds if they are going to be successful.

I’ve played for them and the club has everything – the fan base, the training ground and the stadium.

But they have not had any managerial stability and to me, that is holding them back in terms of performances on the pitch.