Can bookies favourite Gareth Ainsworth be the man to reconnect Preston North End and the fans?

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It might be a little while yet before Preston North End appoint a full-time successor to Alex Neil but the guessing game in between will prove an interesting one.

Frankie McAvoy has the reins as interim head coach, with his first game in charge against Norwich on Good Friday at Deepdale.

McAvoy accepts he might not be everyone’s cup of tea – those were his words – in terms of who people want to see at the helm but rarely are caretakers or interims regarded from the outside as the popular choice.

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In the betting, the Scot is the fourth favourite, the clear favourite with the bookies being Gareth Ainsworth

Gareth Ainsworth after Preston North End's play-off final defeat to Wycombe at Wembley in May 1994Gareth Ainsworth after Preston North End's play-off final defeat to Wycombe at Wembley in May 1994
Gareth Ainsworth after Preston North End's play-off final defeat to Wycombe at Wembley in May 1994

Their odds are determined on who the money is going on and Ainsworth is the man who many are minded to put their cash behind at present.

The 47-year-old is in work at Wycombe, with PNE on the end of two defeats against the Chairboys in 2021.

There are arguments for and against Ainsworth as a suitable candidate to fill the Deepdale vacancy.

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He has led Wycombe to two promotions, taking them into the Championship for the first time in their history.

Wycombe manager Gareth AinsworthWycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth
Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth

That has been done on the smallest of budgets, with a clever use of resources.

It is as a player where he connected with PNE fans and connection is going to be a big part of the job for whoever the next manager/head coach is.

There is a disconnect with the fan base at the moment, whether that be down to the pandemic or slide in results.

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Ainsworth could build bridges, leaning on his knowledge of North End.

Younger fans who started supporting PNE after the mid 1990s might wonder why us slightly older folk go a touch nostalgic when Ainsworth is mentioned.

The simple fact is, he ‘got it’, he knew what the Lilywhites meant to people.

On the pitch he gave blood for the cause, three spells with the club seeing him stack up more stitches than he’d had hot dinners.

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Flip the argument on its head and there are reasons why others might be preferred candidates.

Some fans want a younger person in charge and the style of football Ainsworth has favoured at Wycombe would not sit well.

To counter that last point, people can adapt if required and might find that a different group of players lend themselves to a different style of play.

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