Bolstering the frontline will see Preston North End push on says Alex Neil
Preston North End manager Alex Neil would be ‘pretty confident’ of improving on this season’s performance with the right signings in the transfer window.
It is clear that PNE’s focus will be on bringing a couple of strikers to Deepdale after their play-off bid faltered as the goals dried up.
In their last 12 games of the season, three of those before lockdown and nine after the restart, North End only found the net 10 times.
Three of those came in the win at Sheffield Wednesday, with it being a thin spread in the others.
Daniel Johnson was the only player to get into double figures of league goals, with Tom Barkhuizen getting nine in Championship action.
Aspects of PNE’s approach play encouraged Neil even if the end product did not. So having that extra bite up front is a necessity for Neil as he looks to kick on from the ninth-place finish.
Neil said: “Our general play was not too bad – at Bristol City in the last game for example it was excellent at times.
“We work the ball very well and can mix up our play if we need to – we can go direct, we can play it in behind because we have got the legs.
“The lads have shown they can handle the ball in tight spaces, they did that really well against Birmingham.
“In that game Birmingham sat in a deep block which we managed to puncture.
“But we are still a bit light in certain areas and that is something we’ve talked about.
“However, there is huge potential if we can help the areas we want to.
“If we do that, I would be pretty confident we can improve on what we have done this season.”
PNE have got until the autumn to do their business, the transfer window open for all clubs until October 5. Then for EFL teams there will be a further two weeks when they can do business domestically.
As well as bolstering the squad from the outside, Neil has underlined how important it is to keep hold of a lot of the current players.
Contract negotiations and talks will be an ongoing process in the weeks ahead.
Neil thinks many of the players are settled at PNE, which is a big plus.
The negotiations, though, are not something he tends to get involved in.
“I can’t answer for the lads in terms of what they want to do,” said Neil.
“That is really between them, their agents and the club.
“If I’m being brutally honest, I don’t have too many dealings with contracts and stuff, it’s not my domain.
“What I will say is that the players are happy, they enjoy their work here. No one has been knocking on my door and saying they want to leave.”