Dave Seddon’s PNE press view: Where did it all go wrong for Ben Pringle?

Ben Pringle in pre-season action tracking Burnley's Jack Cork
Ben Pringle in pre-season action tracking Burnley's Jack Cork
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The fact that Ben Pringle was on the move this week, making a loan switch from Preston North End to Oldham Athletic, came as no surprise.

Having not kicked a ball in PNE’s first team for the best part of 13 months, he needed to get games under his belt.

Now that the midfielder has headed temporarily to Boundary Park, the question is why his time with North End fell as flat as a pancake?

Pringle was regarded as the marquee buy of the summer of 2016, the other permanent signings being Callum Robinson, Chris Maxwell, Eoin Doyle, Anders Lindegaard and Tommy Spurr.

Signed from Fulham, we awaited seeing him produce the type of form he had done in Rotherham colours.

He had stood out for the Millers in the League One play-off games against North End in 2014, a key cog in their midfield.

But it just didn’t happen for him at Deepdale, as it hadn’t really done at Fulham before that.

It has not been a case at North End of one manager not being impressed.

His year-and-a-bit out of the first-team picture was spread across the last 
half-season of Simon 
Grayson’s tenure and the first six months of Alex Neil being in office.

Two bosses have looked at him and decided he wasn’t quite for them.

Pringle started the first few games of the 2016/17 campaign, one match he sat out in that opening spell 
being PNE’s first league win of the season at QPR.

His best spell was perhaps that autumn as North End found form and won against Huddersfield, Norwich and Rotherham.

Probably the 3-1 victory at Rotherham on November 5, 2016, was his best game in Preston colours.

Things didn’t fire for him after that, an asthma attack leading to him missing the next game after Rotherham.

The last time we saw him in competitive action for PNE was as a second-half substitute at Nottingham Forest in December 2016.

After no first-team appearances at all in 2017, Pringle will hope that 2018 proves kinder.

Some transfers prove to be a roaring success, some just don’t work.

In Pringle’s case, I think his style didn’t suit what Preston needed.

A left-sided midfielder rather than a winger, a 
ball-player and not a tackler.

Under Grayson, the width was provided either by wing-backs in a 3-5-2 or from more natural wingers in a 4-4-2.

So a wider role was never going to be his, while in the middle, others got ahead of him in the pecking order.

In the summer, Neil gave him plenty of game-time in pre-season to showcase his talents, as he did with all the squad.

There was a spell when perhaps it looked like he might get a sniff, however that wasn’t the case.

A couple of loan moves fell through in the summer, one of them being to Oldham at the end of August.

They have maintained their interest and now the midfielder will be looking to kick-start his career in the way Eoin Doyle was doing at the same club.

The door at Deepdale isn’t completely shut, with Pringle under contract until the summer of 2019.

But you would think that these next few months are a shop-window job for Pringle ahead of a move somewhere at the end of the season.

I wish him well, he was a decent bloke to interview.

Within a couple of days of Pringle leaving, there was inbound movement at North End with Connor Simpson’s arrival from Hartlepool.

Not 18 until later this month, the striker has been signed with one eye very much on the future.

It is his potential which attracted PNE, something they are looking to nurture over the next couple of years.

The comparison is of course with Jordan Hugill, both from the same neck of the woods, both strikers and both signed for a small fee.

If the punt on Simpson turns out as well as it has done with Hugill, then happy days.

A back story to the swoop for the teenager is that he moves from Hartlepool, who currently find themselves in a dire financial state.

North End have not done business out of any grand gesture of benevolence but the fee they have paid can hopefully go some way to helping Pools pay off the 
taxman and pay wages.

I’ve got a soft spot for the Teesside club by reason of some great away days with North End up there.

They clinched the Third Division title at Victoria Park in 1996, a day which will live long with myself and many others.

In March 1988, I was one of 2,000 Preston supporters shoe-horned on to an open terrace to see PNE win 2-0 on a mudbath of a pitch in the Sherpa Van Trophy.

It was a filthy night, rain poured down from start to finish but I still regard it as one of my best away games supporting North End.

I sincerely hope that Pools find a way out of their predicament – with all the money at the top end of the English game, how have we reached a situation where a club could go under for the sake of £200,000? There will be bench-warmers in the Premier League earning as much in just a few weeks,