John Roper’s Preston North End Fans’ Panel verdict: Time to keep our heads

Another league game and another defeat for North End making it three out of three as this nightmare start to the Championship campaign goes on.

By John Roper
Wednesday, 18th August 2021, 8:00 am

This time it was Huddersfield Town who took the three points as PNE huffed and puffed but couldn’t blow their way out of a paper bag.

We just about edged the first half but the standard of football on offer was about as low as it gets in the Championship which is what makes this defeat all the more hard to take.

Huddersfield will certainly not break any pots this season but they are four points in front of us, that’s if you dare look at the league table.

Coach Paul Gallagher with skipper Alan Browne at the end of the game

The winning goal was a tad unfortunate from Sepp van den Berg’s point of view but I thought that the players on show in Yorkshire generally played way below their capacity.

In the final third of the field we offered virtually nothing and if we carry on like this for much longer we are looking at League One football next season.

Four changes for North End from the team that was beaten at Reading on Saturday with Earl, Whiteman, Potts and Evans given their chance to haul the club out of the slump it now finds itself in.

North End started solidly enough but I have to say, once again, we were playing one of the poorest sides I have seen in the Championship for a long time.

Potts and Evans had half-chances early on but the final ball and our general play towards the opponents goal was awful.

I lost count of the times the centre-backs just lumped it up and although Evans did win his fair share of headers, there was no one anticipating and running off the ball.

The Terriers had one deflected shot that caused a heart-stopping moment in the North End defence but that, and an Evans shot straight at the home keeper, was just about all the highlights of the first half wrapped up in one sentence.

No changes after the interval as North End looked to get the goal which would surely win the game and for the first quarter of an hour of the second half we had plenty of possession and plenty of pressure, but you’ve guessed it, we created absolutely nothing to trouble the Huddersfield keeper.

Time after time we got within 30 yards of goal but could not make that final telling pass that would have surely killed the home side off.

With just over a quarter of an hour left the inevitable happened when a breakaway from the home side caused Van den Berg to try and scoop the ball clear but he only ended putting it into his own net.

It was tough on the lad as he had been solid for most of the evening down the right side in spite of having to play against a tricky winger.

Frankie McAvoy brought on Riis, Maguire and Sinclair late on but the boat had sailed and once again North End went down in front of the Sky cameras in what was a dreadful evening for the 1,205 travelling fans in West Yorkshire.

So the question on everyone’s lips is where do we go from here?

Some want the manager changing, some want the owner’s representative changing and some want the owner himself to sell up.

It feels like a perfect storm at Deepdale at the moment and doesn’t look like changing anytime soon.

North End were tactically bereft in my opinion at Huddersfield and that can only lie in the manager’s office.

The transfer strategy and running down of contracts is less transparent but clearly the strategy hasn’t worked so far because we have sold our best players and replaced them with lower quality.

It was Kipling who wrote “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs” well maybe the spirit of Rudyard will be needed at Deepdale over the next few days.

It almost beggars belief that after just three league games we are talking about Saturday’s encounter with Peterborough being a “must win” for Preston. These are dark days, indeed.