Job done: John Mousinho was PNE's matchwinner at Hartlepool as they bounced back
Job done: John Mousinho was PNE's matchwinner at Hartlepool as they bounced back
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Preston managers must hate December.

Only turkeys on a Bernard Matthews farm probably dread the arrival of the Christmas month more than the man at the PNE helm.

Three Decembers in a row North End handed their manager his cards – Alan Irvine in 2009, Darren Ferguson 12 months to the day later, and then Phil Brown in 2011.

The sacking trend was bucked in 2012 with Graham Westley the first Lilywhites boss since Irvine in 2008-2009 to be in charge as December flipped into January.

To think caretaker bosses had been at the helm for the three previous New Year matches while we all played a guessing game of who the next incumbent would be.

Mind you, Westley (right) would not have enjoyed last Saturday, the second and third anniversaries respectively of the dismissals of Fergie Jnr and Irvine.

It was perhaps the darkest moment of his tenure as Doncaster turned over North End, who served up a timid performance in front of the home faithful.

While there were some unhappy days and nights last season, he was working then with largely an inherited squad.

Against Doncaster it was Westley’s chosen players out there, albeit the team was without some key performers.

Little wonder the final whistle brought with it the rather toxic reaction from the stands, followed by much debate on social media platforms.

Should he stay or should he go, asked some of the PNE fans who have grown accustomed to the annual change at the top.

As three successive mid-season sackings have led only to a downward spiral in fortunes at the club, it is worth asking the question, what a fourth would achieve?

That said, financially North End cannot afford to hang about in League One for too long – just ask those who watched the club play at this level and lower between 1981 and 2000.

So there is bound to be worry and disappointment among the supporters as they watched their side enter the second half of the season treading water in lower mid-table.

Westley stayed of course, although the rumour mill went into overdrive during the three-hour wait for his post-match press conference.

One innocent tweet from a radio reporter predicting he would still be waiting for an interview at 6.30pm instead of downing a beer in the pub, had soon been turned on its head into ‘PNE have called a 6.30 press conference’. It looks like the only instruction delivered to Westley that night was to go and respond with a victory at Hartlepool four days later.

That they did – not particularly done with much style – against a limited Pools outfit.

But a win is a win as they say, and the 1-0 success on Teesside seems to have brought about an uneasy truce between the pro-Westley and anti-Westley factions.

I cannot see the debate rearing its head with too much force whatever today’s result at Millwall is, bearing in mind the Lions start as clear favourites.

What many North End supporters have their sights trained on though, is Thursday night’s visit to Coventry in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

If a dramatic climb up League One is going to be too bigger hurdle to clear, then the humble JPT could be this season’s saviour.