Dave Seddon's Preston North End Press View: Excitement is already building for next season at Deepdale

It’s three weeks since Preston North End’s season reached its conclusion but excitement already is building for the next one.

By Dave Seddon
Friday, 27th May 2022, 12:30 pm

The flip-flops have barely been worn, yet the focus is firmly trained on season card sales, recruitment, pre-season friendlies and making Deepdale a livelier, noisier venue than it has been in recent years.

Players have already posted photos on Instagram of summer fitness work-outs, others will soon be with their countries for a stint of international football in the Nations Cup.

Such is the modern game, there’s hardly time to draw breath and reflect before meeting the next challenge which awaits round the corner.

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Preston North End fans with the giant Sir Tom Finney surfer flag

I’ll reflect for a few moments though, on the season we’ve just watched – it seems an age since that final game against Middlesbrough three Saturdays ago.

It was a campaign which had its ups and downs, it had sadness, it had moments of euphoria, had moments of anger and frustration, there was despair and there was hope.

Who’d be a football fan with that lot to contend with? The simple answer to that question is all of us! Unless you support a team who runs away with titles and trophies, your emotions get stretched to the limit.

That’s why we keep coming back for more.

Preston North End players form a team huddle before the Blackpool game

There is an excitement building among the North End faithful for next season and we’ve not even reached the end of May.

Season card sales have hurtled beyond last year’s tally and should pass through the 10,000 barrier these next few days – remember, the early bird offer ends on June 4.

I wrote in this column last week of my admiration for the supporters who are helping PNE promote the season cards and spread the word round the city and beyond.

That admiration grows every time I see a social media post about another mass leaflet delivery. One such rattling of letterboxes in towns and villages to the north of Preston particularly irked one resident who supports a certain rival club, which was good to hear!

Fans taking it upon themselves to help take the message out there is sometimes the best sort of promotion for a campaign. There’s no PR spin or manager talk, it's the view of people who can see the promise of what might be ahead.

If North End can get to 10,000 season card sales and even beyond, it will make such a difference at Deepdale. Seeing the ground busier will be a big tonic and fans groups are already working on building a better atmosphere on the back of those increased numbers.

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The Championship promises to be an interesting place in 2022/23 and solid support in good numbers will be important.

Burnley’s drop from the Premier League sees them join North End, Blackburn and Blackpool in the second tier.

All four clubs haven’t been in the same division since the 1960/61 season which is a remarkable statistic. They’ve been dotted around at different levels these last 61 years and now fate has brought them together.

It means a bit less motorway mileage in the season ahead which is no bad thing considering the price of a tank of petrol at the moment is almost enough to bankrupt us.

As well as the four Lancashire rivals, there’s Wigan just down the M6, while Stoke isn’t too far away. Sunderland’s promotion sees them join Middlesbrough as the North East’s representatives in the Championship.

Sheffield United, Rotherham and Hull City fly the flag on the other side of the Pennines and out to the east coast, while Huddersfield’s involvement is dependant on the outcome of Sunday’s play-off final at Wembley.

So there’s certainly more of a northern flavour to next season, on the flip side Norwich City are back as their yo-yo existence continues.

The on-field preparations in terms of new signings, should start to gather pace as the calendar turns over into June.

I’m still intrigued as to how many players North End will bring in. The fact 13 players have been released won’t lead to 13 new faces.

My guess would be a minimum of six, possibly three or four more.

Two goalkeepers, two wing-backs and two strikers, are for me the starting points.

With the keepers, they are starting with a blank canvas having gone from four to none. Wing-backs we know form a big part of how Ryan Lowe wants to play, with it being somewhat make-do-and-mend until now.

Up front, we hope for Cameron Archer to come back. Even if Aston Villa do lend him again, some extra firepower wouldn’t go amiss.

After those essentials, you could then argue the case for more midfield creativity so it doesn’t always fall on Daniel Johnson to provide that.

Would the defence look more secure with an addition? When you’ve lost the quality of Sepp van den Berg from the back three, I’d reason another centre-back wouldn’t go amiss.

Jordan Storey will return after his loan at Sheffield Wednesday, however will his stint there be enough to prove to Ryan Lowe he’s worth a place in the team?

Does a defensive pool of Storey, Bambo Diaby, Patrick Bauer, Andrew Hughes and Liam Lindsay provide sufficient quality for a determined run at the play-offs?

There will be new names on the team sheet when the season kicks-off at the end of July and certainly more fans inside Deepdale to cheer them on than there have been for a good few years.