Dave Seddon's Preston North End Press View: Late signings of Ali McCann and Josh Murphy a big boost for PNE

Down the years I have covered many transfer deadline days but Tuesday night’s cut-off was that bit different.

By Dave Seddon
Saturday, 4th September 2021, 12:30 pm

For one, I can’t recall PNE announcing two deals so late in the day – or night as was the case this time.

Secondly, never have I written a transfer story in the pitch black.

We had paid the electric bill but electrical cabling in the area surrounding Seddon Towers chose Tuesday to wave the white flag and stop working.

Hence two power cuts and engineers from Electricity North West spending hours digging up the road and working in the trench dug to repair the fault.

Power cut number two came about 15 minutes before North End shared with the world that Josh Murphy had signed on loan from Cardiff.

The only light in the house was from my lap top screen as Murphy’s bio was researched and the story put on the Lancashire Post website.

Thankfully by the time Ali McCann’s signing was announced, the lights were back on, so was the wi-fi (thank goodness for phone hotspots in the meantime), and writing about the new boy was done in a far better working environment.

Preston North End's new signing Ali McCann in action for his former club St Johnstone

The loan deal for Murphy and McCann’s £1.2m capture from St Johnstone both look very good signings.

Every signing carries a risk but these two deals should bring something extra to the PNE squad.

What their arrivals did was to alter the mood of the North End faithful in a blink of the eye.

Social media was bordering on meltdown as fans waited for news as the clock ticked towards the 11pm deadline. Not for another 45 minutes was Murphy announced, then nearer to 12.30am came the official news on McCann.

PNE loanee Josh Murphy takes on Manchester United's Diogo Dalot

Frowns turned into grins as supporters – those who hadn’t taken themselves off to bed – digested the info.

Their signings added several layers of gloss to the business done by North End in the summer window.

For some fans, the window had been slightly under whelming until then, partly due to two of the signings – Izzy Brown and Matthew Olosunde – being out injured.

Their desire to see an out-and-out striker added didn’t materialise, however the deals for McCann and Murphy were received positively.

They are at different stages of their careers and come in different circumstances.

Murphy was on the fringes of the Cardiff squad and while he had got games in the last couple of seasons with the Bluebirds, he wasn’t starting on a regular basis.

Frankie McAvoy worked with him at Norwich and maybe that familiarity will help steer the 26-year-old back on course in terms of a regular game.

McCann on the other hand, was the jewel in the crown at St Johnstone.

He had emerged in the last 18 months or so as one of the brightest talents in Scottish football.

Last season was a big one for the Saints, with them winning both the Scottish FA Cup and the League Cup.

McCann was at the heart of the double triumph, with the FA Cup win landing them a crack at European football.

The Saints faced Turkish giants Galatasaray in the Europa League qualifying rounds, drawing 1-1 away before losing 4-2 in Perth.

Defeat dropped them into the Europa Conference League where they bowed out to Austrian side LASK Linz. With the European adventure over, perhaps that is when McCann’s mind turned to the possibility of seeking pastures new.

North End paid £1.2m for McCann, with the Saints having a sell-on clause should PNE cash in at a later date and make a profit.

It’s in the ballpark of the fees they have handed over in recent seasons for Ben Whiteman, Brad Potts and Tom Bayliss.

St Johnstone supporters are of the view the £1.2m fee under-values McCann, even with the potential for more should the Lilywhites sell.

He had been talked about earlier in the summer in the £2m-3m bracket.

What made things worse for Saints fans was that their skipper Jason Kerr had been sold to Wigan for £600,000 a few hours before.

A double whammy, similar you could argue to when North End lost the two Bens – Davies and Pearson – in the winter window.

With PNE’s budget, McCann is exactly the type of player they need to go shopping for.

They have bought him at a good age, at 21 he has some experience under his belt and has plenty of years ahead of him to develop.

Quite a few signings of late have seen North End lean more towards players in their mid-20s.

McCann is a return more to the model of business done a few years back, younger players with a higher sell-on potential.

The Northern Ireland international – he qualifies through his dad – comes into a well-staffed midfield in terms of the numbers.

However, he will bring something different, and has the potential of maybe filling the gap left by Pearson’s sale in January.

McCann has his creative side too, watching bits of Northern Ireland’s 4-1 win in Lithuania on Thursday night, he looked comfortable on the ball – neat and tidy with his play.

The overlap of deadline day and the international break means that McCann is yet to set foot in Preston and won’t do until late next week.

His medical was done in Belfast while with the Northern Ireland squad, he put his signature on the transfer paperwork at the team hotel – this is the era of bubble system after all.

When he does arrive in Lancashire, McCann can expect the warmest of welcomes and the best wishes of the North End fans to their marquee summer signing.

With the window closed, now is the time to focus on what is occurring on the pitch rather than what might be happening off it.