Exclusive Ben Pearson Preston North End column: Ready for big day at Millwall

Here we go, another season is about to start and I’m really looking forward to getting going.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 2nd August 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd August 2019, 6:00 pm
Beating Newcastle's Matty Longstaff to the ball at Deepdale
Beating Newcastle's Matty Longstaff to the ball at Deepdale

We can forget about the hard running in pre-season, the friendly games that don’t mean anything – this is when we have to start producing.

The pre-season I thought was very good although the weather was a challenge to say the least.

We were either playing in a heatwave or in a monsoon like we did against Newcastle last Saturday.

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It was tough going in the Newcastle game with all the rain that came down.

To be fair, the pitch at Deepdale usually holds up well to the weather but last week it was holding a lot of water over by the dugouts.

We had to work that bit harder as a result which won’t have done us any harm. Ask any of the lads and they would have preferred to have played in the rain rather than the baking heat.

As you expect, the gaffer worked us very hard during pre-season training.

We got the running done in the first couple of weeks and then the training got adjusted once the friendlies started.

It was good to play some different style of opposition and I think results were fine apart from Southampton.

That day Southampton played very well and we were not on our ‘A’ game.

You saw how organised they were and that day you could tell the difference in the standard between the two sides.

We probably needed a bad result like that to be honest, just to remind us of the work that needed to be done.

If you go through the pre-season winning every game and aren’t challenged, it doesn’t prepare you fully. Southampton beating us just gave us that little kick we needed, gave us that bit more determination.

Against Newcastle we were a lot better although I didn’t think they were quite as well organised as Southampton had been.

I’m guessing that the Southampton manager had done lots of work on pressing and squeezing the line.

Whenever we got the ball, we’d had three or four of their players around us which made it difficult.

We start the season at Millwall on Saturday which is a tough opener, especially with it being away.

Sometimes the first few games of the season can be quite scrappy, with people charging around trying to prove a point.

It can be best to just focus on getting some good results under your belt and worry more about the performances after a couple of weeks.

In an ideal world every team would start off firing on all cylinders but it does take a few games to totally get your eye in.

We won 3-1 the last time we went to Millwall and were 3-0 up inside 20 minutes.

In the first half we really battered them and we just clicked that afternoon. We had a lot of joy switching the ball – Paul Gallagher to Tom Barkhuizen worked really well.

Millwall will be a different outfit this time, they have added quite a few players to their squad this summer to make them stronger.

We’ve been working on them this week in training and hopefully that will serve us well.

Our squad has changed a bit with Callum Robinson leaving, while Patrick Bauer and David Nugent have come in to join us.

Robbo will be a big miss, he’s a great lad who gets you double figures of goals and gets you up the league. I 
understand why the deal happened – if a Premier League club comes in for you and the money is right for the club, it is hard to stand in any player’s way.

Every player wants to play at the highest level possible and I don’t begrudge Robbo the chance.

We’ve signed two good lads in Pat and Nuge and if we get a couple more in, I think we will be okay.

Nuge has been around for a while, he already knew a few of the lads and has settled in quickly as you would expect.

Pat has played really well in the games he’s played and I thought he looked so strong against Newcastle.

An important piece of business in the summer was Tom Barkhuizen signing his new contract – it means I kept my room-mate for away matches.

We’ve roomed for two or three years now and we just seem to get on really well even though we don’t hang out much away from the club.

I’ve got my routine I like to stick to because I’m pretty superstitious – I like to eat the same food and sleep at certain times building up to a game.

Barky puts up with me, even when I wake up at 2am sometimes and decide to wake him – he doesn’t seem to mind!