It’s too tough to call – Championship will be very unpredictable says Preston boss Alex Neil

Preston boss Alex Neil thinks the Championship will prove to be a more unpredictable beast than normal this season.
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Notoriously difficult to get out of at the best of times, money is tighter in the second tier this year due to the pandemic.

There’s the added factor of the season starting behind closed doors and hopefully the phased return of fans.

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North End face Swansea today at Deepdale in their opening game.

Preston North End manager Alex NeilPreston North End manager Alex Neil
Preston North End manager Alex Neil

They have a tough looking early spell, with Tuesday’s Carabao Cup visit to Derby followed by league meetings with Norwich, Stoke and Brentford before the action pauses for the international break in October.

“The Championship is one of the hardest leagues to predict.

“With the situation that is ongoing at the moment, I think it is even more difficult to predict.

“Everyone is going into the season not quite knowing what is going to happen.

“There’s not been as much movement as normal.

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“Some of the more wealthier teams have put some money back in but there is not the amount of player trading that you generally find at this time of year.

“Squads haven’t fluctuated too much and sometimes you have to freshen it up because you can become stale.

“I’m not necessarily talking about us, I’m talking in general.”

Although there might have been less trading than normal, PNE and Bournemouth are the only two Championship clubs not to have done any incoming business so far in the transfer window.

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With that in mind, Neil does not expect North End to be looked upon from the outside as contenders for the play-offs.

He is desperate to do some business as he looks to try and improve on that season’s ninth place finish, with a striker top of his wanted list.

However, the expectation to push for a place in the upper reaches of the table is something he drives.

Said Neil: “We have high expectations of ourselves, that is what I encourage as the manager of the club.

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“When other teams in this league are trying to predict where teams will finish, they won’t be expecting Preston to be in the top six.

“A lot of that is based on money, finance and how much you are putting in.

“There are three teams who have come down from the Premier League with parachute payments, they have vast budgets.

“There are other teams in the league who have spent more money than us.

“We have an expectation about ourselves but that won’t necessarily be the case from outside the club.”