PNE in Numbers: New Preston boss Ryan Lowe's has certainly hit the ground running in terms of results

It is no revelation or secret that Ryan Lowe has had a dramatic impact on Preston North End.

By Tom Sandells
Friday, 18th February 2022, 12:30 pm

There is no greater indication of that than their rise up the table.

The Lilywhites were 19th when the former Plymouth Argyle boss was brought into Deepale, they are now 11th and just four points off the play-off places.

His appointment has been the catalyst for many improvements at the club, both on and off the pitch.

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Preston boss Ryan Lowe

But on the pitch has been where Lowe has shone. He picked up a team that were struggling, looked void of a meaningful direction and also confidence. They seemed to have to work twice as hard to get what most teams would be able to produce.

With his clear style and identity, that is no longer the case. The hard work is of course still there but instead you can see why a certain run is needed, you can see the method in why things are done, such as building out from the back or playing off Ben Whiteman in the deep midfield role.

North End have lost just one league game since the Liverpudlian took over, winning five and drawing five.

It is a good start, but when you compare that to how close the Championship is this season and how little there is to split sides, drawing five is not a bad return and losing just once takes some doing.

Another way of putting it is that since Lowe was appointed, only one side has taken more points than them.

Huddersfield Town have one more point over their previous 11 games since December 8 – they are fifth in table and five points ahead of PNE.

There are moments too that can e reflected on that could have seen PNE top of that ‘table’, Whiteman’s missed penalty at Millwall an example.

There is still room for improvement and those that have watched PNE, or listened to Lowe speak, can see that it is more than possible with the current group of players and staff.

Rising eight places in the Championship is no easy task, particularly if you have never managed at this level before but Lowe has looked every bit a Championship manager from the moment he was appointed.

He has picked up 20 points and despite conceding eight times in the 11 games, that seems to be drying up now.

As things evolve under the new stewardship there are extra strings to the PNE bow forming – 2-2 and 2-1 scorelines are being replaced by 0-0 and 1-0 – they are becoming tougher to break down and in turn, need to do less to win.

In the past they have had to be more expansive to come back into games and, whilst that has allowed for some memorable moments and scenes in the away ends, it does not do much for managers that want their team to be solid defensively.

That is not to say that Lowe is a defensive-minded coach, but if he can keep the back door shut, it makes life easier at the other end and the minimum you should walk away with is a point – as has been the case when they falter up front, which happens.

Facing Reading this afternoon is a good opportunity to stop the run of home draws – currently four in a row –with a win. It is the only thing lacking from a sterling start to life at Deepdale.

Up eight places in three months, North End fans are already thinking about where things could end up as more months come and go this season.