Alex Neil understands importance of Blackburn Rovers derby game to Preston North End supporters
Alex Neil admits he carries a burden of responsibility as the manager of Preston.
The North End boss knows only too well what the club means to its supporters and the city in general.
And he is certainly fully aware of how significant this weekend’s derby clash against Blackburn at Deepdale is and says the place will be’ buzzing’.
Guiding his men to three points over their neighbours is not only vital in maintaining PNE’s lofty position in the Championship table, but it is also important for the fans to have those bragging rights when they turn in for work on Monday morning.
“It is not lost on me the importance of what the club means to the fans,” Neil said.
“It is more than just a football club, it’s more than just a game to people.
“The club is massive within society and the local community. If the local football team do well, that win will make the fans’ whole week.
“That’s how important the football club is to some people.
“I carry that burden and that responsibility with me every day and that is why I work as hard as I do for this club and its fans.
“I want to make sure I do as well as possible and prepare the players as well as possible for big games like against Blackburn and getting big derby wins.
“People might say it’s just three points, which it is, but it’s not just three points to the fans – I am well aware of that.
“In a derby, you can definitely feel the buzz around the fans. I wouldn’t say both sets of fans dislike each other but there is a natural rivalry there where both teams are desperate to beat each other.
“So right away you feel that extra buzz in the stadium.
“I also understand the importance of not losing that game because the last thing I want is our fans going into work or their daily lives getting a bit of stick.
“I know the bragging rights are really important to them.”
Neil has certainly given the supporters what they want since he has been manager of North End.
Last season they did the double over Tony Mowbray’s men and will certainly kick-off this weekend’s game as the favourites.
Rovers have begun the season indifferently and currently find themselves in 16th spot in the table – 10 places below PNE.
There is speculation that Mowbray’s position is under threat, especially after a run of five games without a win.
“I think they have played well in certain games and been unfortunate with injuries,” said Neil.
“Losing key players is a sore one to take because the simple fact is people have sympathy for about five seconds and then it’s a case of win the next game.”