Fans’ Panel’s Tim Mercer says changes are needed at Preston North End

Another derby defeat, this time away at old rivals Blackburn, was given some added gloom due to the relentless cold Lancashire rain.

Sunday, 5th December 2021, 12:30 pm

Even before kick-off my thoughts were turning towards it being ‘one of those games’ with inevitably low quality on a heavily waterlogged pitch.

I was right apart from the only goal of the game scored by in-form home striker Ben Brereton Diaz early in the second half. A superb cross from their other stand-out player, Reda Khadra, provided the assist to an expertly executed glancing header across Daniel Iversen and into the net.

It didn’t have to turn out this way. North End edged the first half by adapting better to the appalling conditions and had two decent-enough chances.

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At half-time, Blackburn manager Tony Mowbray admitted in his post-match interview to some choice words regarding which side had adapted better to the conditions and it paid dividends for him in the second period. After the goal they simply managed the game out.

More worrying for me was the lack of any real plan from Frankie McAvoy to get back into the game and with his too-late substitutions having no real impact.

The one bright spot was the forced debut, due to injuries, of Matthew Olosunde as right wing-back. There is no chance he could have been match fit and yet he gave a good account of himself until forced off.

And so the negativity amongst the 4,330 around me in the Darwen End returned with a vengeance. ‘Yes’, it is no doubt amplified by social media and ‘No’, we are not back in the dark days of the 1980s of financial stress and long decline towards the bottom fight.

But there is a strong feeling of apathy and disconnect that is gnawing away the foundations needed for any club to succeed.

I fear only structural changes beyond the coaching staff level can address the issue.