McGeady looks to make his mark at PNE
Aiden McGeady wants to fall in love with football again.
Preston North End’s new wing wizard has had a frustrating time over the last year, seeing himself frozen out at Everton before a loan move at Sheffield Wednesday fizzled out towards the end of last season.
Now having arrived at Deepdale on a season-long loan, the Republic of Ireland international is hoping a regular run of games will see him rediscover the form that saw him star for Celtic before sealing a lucrative transfer to Spartak Moscow.
The move to PNE also means having been an outcast at Goodison Park he is now going to be seen as one of the main men, the 30-year-old likely to line up in Joe Garner’s old No.14 shirt against Barnsley on Saturday.
“You’d rather be someone that people look for to create something, than be forgotten about at Everton.” said McGeady.
“I’m just looking forward to getting playing again and starting to enjoy football again.
“I probably lost a little bit of love for it when I was out of the team for so long, training from Monday to Friday and then not being in the squad on a Saturday.”
Shortly after his arrival, new Toffees boss Ronald Koeman made it crystal clear to McGeady that he needed to find a move, any hope of a new start after the departure of Roberto Martinez quickly extinguished.
“The last year-and-a-half has been really frustrating,” he said.
“I’ve struggled to get a run of games together, especially at Everton.
“The first half of last season I didn’t play at all and Sheffield Wednesday started okay, and then I fell out of the manager’s plans. There were a few issues there, and then I started this season thinking there might be fresh start with a new manager in Koeman.
“But after a week of pre-season I was told I wasn’t going to be in his plans.
“I wasn’t just going to sit out my contract. I want to play football and I’m glad I’ll be able to do that.
“That’s why I signed a season-long loan so I can get back playing football and hopefully help the team.”
At one time, though, it was touch and go as to whether he would be finding the move he craved, his arrival at Deepdale not announced until 9.30pm on deadline day as he missed Robbie Keane’s final international to get the deal over the line.
“It was an anxious transfer window for me as it got to the last day,” said McGeady.
“A couple of days before, Preston expressed an interest and then it went away.
“On the last day it came back alive again. Steve Guppy at Ireland is quite close with the manager here and he spoke to me and asked if I fancied it and I said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it’.
“I wasn’t sure what else was going to happen.
“There were another couple of things but I wasn’t sure what was happening.
“I think this is the best place for me and after speaking to the manager I think 100 per cent I made the right decision.”
One option was another move abroad, Danish club Odense seeing their bid to sign McGeady stall as PNE swooped to get their man. A big-money signing when he moved to Russia back in 2010, the playmaker wanted to stay in England after his three-and-a-half years in Moscow.
“It was a possibility,” he said.
“I’ve already lived abroad though so I’ve done that. I didn’t know if I really fancied doing it again.
“You can only take what’s in front of you and at that particular moment that was the best option and until Preston came in that was where I was going.
“Thankfully I didn’t have to go back abroad again.
“I’m not saying I didn’t want to do it but I wanted to stay in England and I’m grateful the manager gave me the opportunity to do that again.”
Traditionally playing wide, McGeady offers PNE plenty of options in behind the front as they look to get their Championship season heading in the right direction.
“I can play on the left or right and the manager’s also mentioned to me about playing off the front,” he said.
“I’ve not done it for a while but if I needed to do that then I’d grasp the opportunity with both hands.
“Just for him to be saying I’ll be playing is great. To get playing again is the main thing for me.
“Wherever I play I’m not too bothered.”
McGeady won everything there is to win north of the border and played in Europe’s top competitions but is well aware of the challenges of the Championship.
“It’s every bit as demanding and physical as the Premier League. The footballing quality obviously isn’t quite on a par but it’s still very tough.
“I found there were games you’d go into thinking you would be all over a team and then you end up losing 3-0.
“That’s what happened last season at Wednesday. We were playing Rotherham at home thinking it would be easy and they ended up beating us in a really tough game. There are no easy games.”