Simon Grayson admits to a deep sense of frustration at his worst run of results as Preston North End manager but believes his side will recover their form.
The 2-1 defeat to Crawley, who started the clash bottom of League One, was PNE’s seventh game without a win.
Disgruntled fans have aimed flak in Grayson’s direction after seeing just two points taken from four league games to knock their automatic promotion hopes.
There has also been the exit from the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Little wonder then that the North End boss described January as being ‘terrible’.
Grayson told the Evening Post: “You go through spells as players, managers and coaches when things don’t go for you.
“We have had one of those months and it is so frustrating.
“Everyone – on paper – would have thought this month would have been a big one in terms of picking up points.
“But we haven’t done that – football is not played on a paper fixture list.
“We have to dust ourselves down, accept the criticism and this group are the sort who will learn from this experience.
“Hopefully we will go on to better things than where we are at the moment.
“We had given ourselves a real platform over the Christmas period to build on and really gather momentum for the second half of the season, so it is really frustrating what has happened.
“We are not a million miles off but at the same time we are, in terms of the results we have had recently. Everything will be analysed to try and make it better – we will come out on the other side.”
North End have a big couple of days in front of them, on and off the pitch.
The transfer window shuts at 11pm tonight, then tomorrow they head to Bramall Lane for the FA Cup fourth-round replay with Sheffield United.
Whoever comes out on top will host Manchester United or Cambridge on February 16. In terms of incoming deals, North End are one of a number of clubs to have an interest in Chesterfield striker Eoin Doyle.
Whether the Spireites will want to do business for a player who has scored 25 goals in 33 games to help them into the play-off positions, remains to be seen.
As for outgoing movement, a couple of clubs have been in contact about Keith Keane, one of them believed to be Stevenage.
As far as the identities of possible targets are concerned, Grayson would not be drawn.
He said: “We have been linked with a lot of players and we are only after good players.
“Someone was telling me last week we had agreed to sign Ben Pringle, yet he was in Rotherham’s team and scoring after a couple of minutes.
“That is what the transfer window does. I don’t like to comment on any names, it is about what we are trying to do behind the scenes.
“When we do anything we will announce it.”
PNE took Joe Garner with them to Crawley, although the striker’s only role there was as a pundit in the press box.
“We thought that Joe would benefit from being around the team,” said Grayson.
“What we are not going to do is rush him back because that would be detrimental, we will put him back when we feel it is the right thing to do.
“It was nice for him to be with the lads and Joe probably wanted a weekend watching football. He is a player we have missed and are desperate for him to be back but that time has to be right for Joe.
“We will put him back in once he has done enough training, sharpness work and recovery to make sure he is available for the rest of the season, rather than just in the short term.”