PNE boss Alex Neil says it will take time to click in attack

Tom Barkhuizen on the attack against Ipswich on Saturday
Tom Barkhuizen on the attack against Ipswich on Saturday

Alex Neil admits that Preston’s attacking approach remains a ‘work in progress’.

ALSO READ: PNE boss not playing the blame game after Ipswich defeat

The Lilywhites are the joint lowest scorers in the top half of the Championship with 40 goals in 34 games.

Countering that, only the current top four can boast a better defensive record than the 33 goals shipped by PNE.

Neil’s men were blunted in the 1-0 defeat to Ipswich on Saturday – the first time since Boxing Day they had not scored in a league game.

He chopped and changed formation to try and find way through Ipswich’s defence but to no avail.

Said Neil: “At the moment the top end of the pitch is a work in progress for us.

“We lost Jordan Hugill who gave us that natural outlet in terms of picking the ball up off him and working around him.

“Some people might not like playing the game that way but Ipswich won the game playing in that manner.

“We are trying to adapt a different way – on Saturday nothing we tried worked out.”

Neil started with a 4-4-2 against Ipswich, as he had done at Aston Villa.

Louis Moult and Callum Robinson played up front, with Tom Barkhuizen and Billy Bodin on the wings.

Robinson was substituted after 38 minutes together with Calum Woods as Neil switched to a 4-2-3-1.

Neil takes that view that getting a side to click up front will always take time.

The Preston boss said: “To coach a team to be defensive is the easiest job in the world.

“Whatever any coach tells you, it is much easier than trying to coach an attacking team.

“When you are coaching a defensive team, wherever the ball is on the pitch your players just need to be in that area.

“But when you are going the other way, everything changes.

“It is not just the ball which affects where you have to be as a centre-forward, it is where you defender is, it is about that half yard, it is opening up your body, going on the blindside.

“There’s a lot of information for forward players to take in, that is why natural strikers and natural forwards are worth the money they are, as there are not many of them.

“It is the hardest element of coaching.

“If you ever hear a manager going into a team which is struggling, the first thing he will say is that he will make them hard to beat.

“The reason being is that, one, it is easier to do and, two, that gives you the base to build the rest of your team on.”

Hugill scored 10 goals, eight of them in the league, before January’s move to West Ham.

Barkhuizen is on seven for the season – all of them in the Championship – with three in the last six games.

Alan Browne has five to his name, with Robinson and Sean Maguire on four.