Preston fan John Smith questions how long Preston can compete at this level

​​Before this game I did not have any "Great Expectations" about us achieving a second successive win on the road and a win double against promotion chasing Middlesbrough.
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Like the important themes which run through the famous Dickens story about Pip an orphan who aspires to become a gentleman, Gentry Day was all about showing respect to those no longer with us.

The North End fans who made the journey up into North Yorkshire were absolutely magnificent in their support for their team even though on the pitch we were well beaten.

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Throughout the whole game they clapped and sang their hearts out for the cause and deserved so much better than what this sorry performance served up for them.

Tom Cannon holds off the challenge from  Middlesbrough's Tommy Smith

Photographer Lee Parker/CameraSport

The EFL Sky Bet Championship - Middlesbrough v Preston North End - Saturday 18th March 2023 - Riverside Stadium - Middlesbrough

World Copyright © 2023 CameraSport. All rights reserved. 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.comTom Cannon holds off the challenge from  Middlesbrough's Tommy Smith

Photographer Lee Parker/CameraSport

The EFL Sky Bet Championship - Middlesbrough v Preston North End - Saturday 18th March 2023 - Riverside Stadium - Middlesbrough

World Copyright © 2023 CameraSport. All rights reserved. 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com
Tom Cannon holds off the challenge from Middlesbrough's Tommy Smith Photographer Lee Parker/CameraSport The EFL Sky Bet Championship - Middlesbrough v Preston North End - Saturday 18th March 2023 - Riverside Stadium - Middlesbrough World Copyright © 2023 CameraSport. All rights reserved. 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - [email protected] - www.camerasport.com

As the upbeat "Down by the Riverside "song goes I am afraid to say we lay down our sword and shield almost straight from kick off playing like we already had the knotted hankies on and were laying the deck chairs out on the beach

In my opinion, the manager’s selection of just one forward was very negative especially as we have little to play for apart from pride in the remainder of the season.

As a fan when you pay your money you wish for at least a little entertainment and do not expect your team to just roll over.

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From the moment I saw the team sheet I had little hope of us scoring a goal and thought the best we could hope for would be a 0-0 draw.

Therefore I was not altogether surprised when the game finished with us on the wrong end of a comprehensive drubbing.

Once the home side who are one of the best sides in the division took the lead the outcome was never in doubt and sadly it soon became a case of damage limitation.

Many years ago I remember a banner being displayed at Deepdale with the words saying "Board Out,Everybody Out" and this is exactly how I felt on Saturday while watching our capitulation.

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Not one of our players could come out with any pride in what I thought was an all round gutless display which lacked the passion and enthusiasm shown by the fans in the stands.

Apart from Freddie Woodman whose displays this season have kept us away from the clutches of relegation fight there is not one player I would miss in this squad if they never pulled on a Preston shirt ever again.

I find it very depressing that our club cannot compete any more against quality teams of the stature of Middlesbrough but I'm afraid to say this is looking more and more like the new normal.

We are told that the days of spending £1 million on a player are over so if that is the case how on earth are we going to replace some of the less than mediocre players in our squad who are earning a fortune while putting in less than average performances.

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Next season there are rumours of a further budget cut and if this happens things can only get worse.

If our club continues to cut investment it will not survive at this level and will eventually sooner or later go back down into the dark depths of League One.

The teams coming up from this division who have more drive and ambition than North End will rise up and climb above us pushing us closer to relegation as the seasons roll by.

Without a change in policy from our current ownership I fear this will undoubtedly be our fate.

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Our only hope is that five or six of our successful youth team can break through at once and replace some of our ageing players who on this performance clearly do not have enough fire left in their bellies.

If i was in charge of the club I would make the players donate their week’s wages to charity as this performance was simply not good enough .