'I'd have bitten your hand off': Mid-table finish for Preston North End is progress for Frankie McAvoy after the dice with relegation

A mid-table finish might not look too spectacular for Preston North End but Frankie McAvoy would have snapped your hand off for that when he accepted the interim head coach job six-and-a-half weeks ago.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 8:00 am

The Lilywhites head to the City Ground to take on Nottingham Forest on Saturday knowing they can only finish either 13th or 14th.

It is the last of an eight-game audition for McAvoy in terms of landing the top job full-time, with his record to date being won four, drawn two and lost one.

North End were in 16th place when McAvoy was given the interim post following Alex Neil’s dismissal on March 21.

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Preston North End interim head coach Frankie McAvoy

Although they were nine points clear of the relegation zone then, third bottom Rotherham’s four games in hand had to be taken into consideration.

With everyone on level pegging of matches now, PNE are 17 points better off than Rotherham who still occupy 22nd position.

McAvoy said: “It is the players who make this job terrific. I came in at a stage where we were in a precarious position, I don’t think anyone could dispute that.

“The challenge was to stay in the division which we have done and to finish as high up the league as possible.

North End interim head coach Frankie McAvoy with his coaching staff and analysts

“That lowest we can finish is 14th, the best is 13th after Luton’s result on Tuesday.

“When we started with eight games to go, I would have bitten your hand off for that.

“Credit to the players that we aren’t one of the four teams who go into the final day and could be relegated, that brings so much pressure.”

McAvoy believes it will be in the days after the Forest game that PNE will decide who lands the manager/head coach job.

The Scot said: “Nothing has changed, it might be after the game on Saturday or into next week. Eight games is what it was for me then they’d decide after that.”

Whatever happens, it has been a challenging season for McAvoy. The biggest challenge was off the pitch, with him hit by Covid -19 in the autumn.

“It went through my family,” said the 53-year-old.

“I was off work for three-and-a-half /four weeks and ended-up getting a blood clot.

“I thought I was getting better and then they found the clot in my leg. Thankfully I got that treated.

“It knocked me. I know people can be a bit sceptical about Covid but I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

“My wife had it too and she’s never ill. It knocked her for six. We had to get through a few tough days.

“It’s been difficult for many people up and down the country but we are starting to see the bright light at the end of it.”

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