PNE boss: Don’t fear play-offs

Preston North End's Manager Simon Grayson
Preston North End's Manager Simon Grayson
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Simon Grayson thinks that the play-offs should not be feared by Preston North End despite their poor past record in the end-of-season knockout.

The Lilywhites boss still has his sights on an automatic place, but if the top two proves beyond reach then he is happy to take the play-off route.

PNE and the play-offs have not been good bedfellows over the last quarter of a century. Their eight attempts – going back to 1989 – have all ended in disappointment.

However, Grayson boasts a far better play-off record as a player and manager.

The fact that he has guided Blackpool and Huddersfield to promotion through the 
play-offs at this level offers much encouragement.

For now, the 44-year-old is concentrating on North End trying to win their final six games of the season.

And at the same time, they need a favour or two from elsewhere.

They hit the road for their next game on Saturday, making the trip to Ashton Gate to face Bristol City.

Speaking on BBC television, Grayson said: “I think we can still get in the top two – we can’t give up hope.

“We have still got six games and we think we can win all of them. Then we have to rely on the other teams above us dropping points.

“Over the last couple of weeks you have seen that teams have dropped points.

“We will keep on going, try and win every game and see where that takes us.

“Our destiny is out of our own hands but we will certainly give it a good go.

“As far as Preston losing in the play-offs is concerned, that has to end somewhere down the line doesn’t it?

“We have been to certain grounds this season where we hadn’t won for a number of years, and managed to win.

“The law of averages says it has to be broken soon, so if we have to go into the play-offs let’s embrace it, enjoy it, don’t panic too much and hopefully we can get promotion that way.

“I played in four finals as a player and won two, and as a manager I’ve been to two finals and won them both.

“If you could guarantee it, the play-offs are the best way to go up because everyone wants to play at Wembley and lift a trophy.”

Grayson believes that North End will be in good shape for next season, whether that be in the Championship or League One. The core of the first-team squad are under contract for the 2014/15 term, and already much of the planning for the pre-season campaign has been done.

Said Grayson: “We have a really strong squad.

“We proved that before Christmas, when we gave a lot of them new contracts so they are here for the long term.

“We do think that a number of them could compete in the Championship.

“There is the nucleus of a good squad for either the Championship or League One.

“We have been putting things in place for next season – we’ve got a lot of our pre-season preparations firmed up.

“We’ve got to keep an eye on what sort of player we need in the Championship, were we to get there, or in League One.

“We will keep working hard and see where that takes us.

“The players deserve a lot of credit for what we have got to.

“They have embraced what we have asked them to do and we’re in a good position.

“Hopefully we can finish the season in a positive manner and give the Preston fans something to shout about.”