Lesson to be learned from how Bees have shown ambition says Preston North End Fans’ Panel’s Tim Mercer

A tale of two similar sized clubs came to a resounding conclusion inside a still empty Deepdale on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, 11th April 2021, 12:30 pm

The divergence in quality of play and players over the last six years or so was laid bare for all to see and is a moment this fan hopes will be taken seriously by those running our famous old club.

Way back in the glory days it was North End who led the way in their innovative approach to so many key aspects of professional and league football and it paid dividends in raising a town team to the pinnacle of success.

Back to the more recent times of six years ago, I clearly remember watching an interview with the then new owner of Brentford.

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Brentford’s Marcus Forss (right) and Preston North End’s Andrew Hughes

In it he stated the club would be using mathematical modelling from now on in terms of player recruitment and strategy to the extent that they would be letting their current (and successful) manager go at the end of the season, come what may.

This appeared to be a ridiculous statement at the time. Brentford were perennial strugglers who only rarely got out of the third tier, would be considered smaller and weaker than Preston over any time period, AND were having an incredible run following a rare promotion to the Championship in the previous campaign.

Roll forward six years and a recently rejuvenated North End were put to the sword in a clinical fashion that resulted in a 5-0 home drubbing.

Such a pity, as the hosts’ new-found confidence, brought about by the four points gained over the Easter period against other top sides in the division, was wiped away by time of the break with the Bees already two goals to the good.

It was especially painful as the Lilywhites had started the stronger of the two, showing that new injection of belief following the departure of Alex Neil, but it has to be said that the quality of the final ball let them down on each occasion they threatened the visitors’ goal.

After the restart Brentford switched into full clinical destroyer mode, adding a further three goals that could in truth have been more and with Preston looking more forlorn as the minutes ticked by.

Frankie McAvoy did try to stop the rot early in the second period with a triple substitution and change of formation, but this had little-to-no impact and in the end it was a relief to hear the final whistle.

Assuming we secure our Championship status with three or four more points gained in the last five games, a serious appraisal of where we go from here is needed at the highest levels in the club if we are not to be left behind by other ‘Town’ sized clubs such as Barnsley and Luton who appear to be embarking on a similar path to Brentford.