Simon Grayson is determined to take Preston North End “back to where they belong” as he enters his fifth year in charge at Deepdale.
The Lilywhites boss marks his fourth anniversary in the hotseat at Wigan today with a sold out away following of more than 4,700 fans set to wear masks of their manager’s face in celebration.
Plenty has happened since Grayson took over with North End 17th in League One with his achievements and the fact other clubs have the tendency to hire and fire meaning he is the 10th longest serving manager in English football.
“I’m extremely proud and privileged to be manager of this football club,” he said.
“Being at a club four years takes some doing because they’re aren’t many managers that have done that in recent years.
“I’m really pleased to do it but I know we’ve got to keep working, keep improving all the time.
“We want to try and take this football club back to where it belongs and where it deserves to be.
“We’ll keep progressing and in hopefully another one, two, three or four years people might still be asking the same questions about how long I’ve been here.”
When he arrived at Deepdale on February 18 2013 to replace the departed Graham Westley, the now 47-year-old had only been out of a job for less than a month after leaving Huddersfield.
The Terriers were the third club Grayson had guided out of League One after Leeds and Blackpool.
He repeated the feat with PNE in 2015, taking the Lilywhites up via the play-offs with a 4-0 win over Swindon at Wembley, Grayson having drawn 1-1 at the County Ground in his first game in charge of the club.
Now with North End 10th in the Championship, improving season after season continues to be the aim.
“That’s what I’ve tried to base my career on,” said Grayson.
“Every club I’ve been at previously I’ve left in a better state than when I went in.
“As it stands I’m doing that at Preston North End and I want to make sure that continues season on season.
“We want to keep progressing and so far we’ve done that.
“It comes with a lot of hard work and having good staff underneath me.
“The likes of Snods (assistant Glynn Snodin), Thommo (first team coach Steve Thompson). (goalkeeping coach) Alan Kelly, all the medical staff and the sports science department, they don’t get the credit they deserve at times.
“They deserve a lot praise for what we’ve done at this football club so far.”
As for the current campaign Preston head to the DW Stadium seven points outside the play-offs, on course to at least better last season’s 11th place achieved on their return to the second tier.
Back-to-back wins at Deepdale over Brentford and Birmingham see PNE take plenty of momentum into the derby clash.
“We want to try and maintain the consistency and level of performance we’ve had,” said Grayson.
“We need to keep working hard, the lads need to keep enjoying what we’re doing and we’ll see where it takes us.
“The bottom line is we want to finish above where we finished last year.
“We always said we wanted to do that and if we can it’s a progression.
“There’s going to be a lot of twists and turns so we’ll stick with the approach of the last few months.”