It's Snod's Law...league's getting tougher!
Preston's assistant boss Glynn Snodin knows North End need to improve again when the new season comes around because the Championship is only getting tougher.
The Lilywhites finished the 2016-17 season on exactly the same number of points, 62, and in an identical position, 11th, as 12 months prior.
In-house, though, it was viewed as an improvement given the ever-improving quality of the second tier and the amount of money being spent by some clubs on wages and transfer fees.
Newcastle, Brighton and Huddersfield may have been promoted but Middlesbrough and Hull – both with recent experience of getting out of the Championship – as well as Sunderland, will be trying to plot a swift route back to the top flight.
North End started last season slowly and ended poorly but for large parts in between showed they can match the big boys.
It is something Snodin knows PNE will have to do on a regular basis when the new season gets under way on August 5.
“It could be even tougher next time,” said the Lilywhites No.2. “There are some big clubs coming down again, Middlesbrough and Sunderland, who will be in the mix.
“The league does seem to get better every year and we need to improve with it.
“Last season we didn’t start well and didn’t finish well but we showed what we could do between then.
“When you look back at the start, we weren’t getting smashed by anyone, we were just losing by the odd goal.
“I remember doing some work with the back four when the results weren’t coming.
“I just told the lads to keep going, keep working, the first task being to get out of that bottom three. We did it step by step, little steps along the way, found our feet and pushed on.
“For long spells of the season, we showed what we could do.”
One key to more progress next season will be manager Simon Grayson staying at Deepdale. The PNE boss has been linked with Sunderland this week but there has still been no formal move to take the North End manager of four years to the Stadium of Light, with sources in the North East suggesting no appointment is imminent.
The Mackems are on the hunt for a new manager after David Moyes’ resignation following their relegation from the Premier League.
Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes has been a long-time favourite with former Leeds manager Garry Monk – who was seemingly the leading contender to take over at another demoted side Middlesbrough – emerging as a potential Black Cats boss yesterday.
Reports in the North East said Monk was open to talks with the Sunderland hierarchy, with the former Swansea manager a man in demand.
Former Hull, Leicester and Derby boss Nigel Pearson is also thought to be in the running for one of the more coveted posts in the second tier.