"I didn't recognise us in the first half" - Preston North End manager Alex Neil's reaction to defeat at Wycombe Wanderers
Preston North End manager Alex Neil admitted he 'didn't recognise' his side's first-half performance in the defeat to Wycombe Wanderers.
The Lilywhites were beaten 1-0 by the Championship's bottom club at Adams Park, Ryan Tafazolli's 27th minute header from a corner settling the contest.
But in truth the margin of victory could have been greater, with the home side a constant threat in the first half and having a number of other chances - two of them a carbon-copy to the goal.
With the fanbase restless after a poor set of results in 2021, Neil had to field questions about his future in the post-match press conference.
He insisted he wasn't worried about his position, that for others to decide.
Neil said: "The contrast between the first and the second half was there to see, while we didn't get anything out of the second half we didn't lack intensity or effort.
"We showed a contrast about ourselves in one game of football.
"We spoke about the importance of this game for two days and then in the first half we served that up.
"If I'm being honest, I didn't even recognise our team in the first half."
North End have won just three games since the turn of the year and sit 15th in the table.
They do seem to be drifting towards the end of the season but points are still needed.
Neil said: "If you don't win games than questions start to get asked.
"As a manager you haven't got time to worry about your role, it is not something you can sit and focus on and think 'If I don't win this one I'm a little bit worried.
"It is what it is. Other people will talk about those types of things, it is not something registered on my mind.
"I have got more important things to focus on which is trying to get my team ready, try and get the lads to play as well as they can,
"If you are going on the first half today, that didn't happen.
"Am I alarmed about the run of form we are on? Of course I am, I'm not stupid.
" We want to win games and be competitive. We have done that for my whole time being here.
"This is arguably the toughest times we've had. You can put it down to what you want but if you lack a bit of fight and a bit of drive, that is worrying signs for me."
Wycombe had lost four on the bounce before North End's visit but looked well up for this one from the word go.
North End were on the back foot from the first whistle and only after a triple substitution at half-time did they slightly improve.
Neil said: "We lost the game in the first half - Wycombe were hungrier than us, they moved the ball better than us, they won more tackles, more duels, and if I'm being honest we didn't compete anywhere near well enough in the first half.
"It was probably the first time I could actually say we lacked any sort of real fight to get into the game in anyway, shape or form.
"We knew it was coming, we knew the ball would get turned and we needed to be physical.
"We lacked all of those ingredients to fight, compete and win.
"For the goal we had two warnings before it, we had designated markers to pick up their players.
"It was so soft, a clip into the box, their lad gets ahead of his marker and heads it in.
"The goal was soft but the more worrying signs for me in the first half was the lack of fight and lack of competiveness for us to go and win the game."
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