Time will tell if it is or isn’t but I thought Preston being paired with Doncaster in the FA Cup was a decent enough draw.
It depends on what you want from the cup I suppose – a quick crack at one of the big boys or an attempt at a run in the competition?
Landing a top Premier League side in last Monday’s draw would have brought a lot of excitement but would it have been what North End needed five days into 2019?
It is unlikely that the current crop of injuries will have eased significantly by early January.
And there will have been little time to get much done in the transfer window by then.
I’m sure Doncaster will be tough opponents and I’m not suggesting for a moment that the January 5 clash is any kind of forgone conclusion.
But Preston will start as favourites by reason of being from a division higher and having home advantage.
If they beat Donny, it is £135,000 in the pot and a place in the fourth round to look forward to.
By the time that round is played in late January, hopefully some of the injuries will have cleared and just as importantly, some headway been made in the transfer market.
That might be the ideal time to land Premier League opponents.
I do hope North End are up for the cup this season.
The fifth round is as good as it has got for the club in my lifetime, all decent runs I hasten to add.
But wouldn’t it nice to push on that little bit further and grab a few headlines?
In 2015 it was good to have the spotlight shone on PNE when Manchester United were the visitors.
It might be that the cup proves to be the high point of this season.
As the midway stage of the Championship season nears – the December 22 trip to Sheffield Wednesday marks halfway – North End sit in 18th place.
The upper reaches of the table might not be out of sight but it would take some run to play catch-up.
Yes, Fulham might have made up a similar gap after being mid-table going into Christmas last year.
However, they had the cash to bring in Aleksandar Mitrovic on loan to give them that push up the division.
Just at the moment, the priority for Preston in the league has to be putting more distance than the current four points between themselves and the bottom three.
So when the FA Cup comes around in the New Year, it might just be a good time to accept that challenge and see if they can get on an adventure.
The financial rewards in the cup have gone up this season – prize money having doubled per round.
If £135,000 is loose change in the Premier League, it’s a decent amount outside of it for winning a third-round game.
A bit extra in the coffers wouldn’t go amiss to help out in the transfer window.
I’m not writing the league campaign off at all but some cup joy could just be a tonic in what has to date been a challenging season.
On the subject of the cup, it was enjoyable to watch North End’s Under-18s make it past Charlton Athletic and into the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup this week.
The 2-2 draw and penalty shootout win at Deepdale kept a very decent-sized crowd well entertained on what was a chilly Tuesday night.
There were impressive performances on both sides and the visitors from South London could perhaps count themselves a touch unlucky.
Ethan Walker and Jack Baxter were two in a white shirt to particularly catch the eye.
Both are among a strong contingent of local boys in the youth team.
It was a goalkeeper from across the Irish Sea, Jimmy Corcoran, who was to be PNE’s hero in the shootout, saving two penalties.
One aspect of the FA Youth Cup which needs to be looked at is the use of extra time after a draw.
I would favour a drawn match to go straight to a shoot out.
These are young lads and 90 minutes on a big pitch is some ask, let alone another half-hour on top.
I’ve seen extra time a few times in the competition and often it is a non-event with the youngsters having little left to give.
Some of the lads playing on Tuesday evening were just 16 – Corcoran, Walker, Tyrhys Dolan and Louis Potts only left school in June.
Others had the advantage of a few extra miles on the clock, Baxter something of a ‘veteran’ having recently turned 18.
It would be good to see a regular supply of academy players feeding into the first-team system at North End.
Josh Earl has been the success story of the last 18 months or so, making the transition successfully.
Baxter has a professional deal and Adam O’Reilly will follow suit.
I won’t profess to be any sort of expert on the youth team, only getting the chance to see them play in the FA Youth Cup.
But listening to those who are regular watchers of the games at their Cottam HQ, combined with the fact the club has a manager in Alex Neil who likes to promote youth, we might hopefully be seeing some make the grade.