PNE boss Neil nominated for monthly gong

PNE boss Alex Neil has been nominated for the Championship's manager of the month award
PNE boss Alex Neil has been nominated for the Championship's manager of the month award

Preston’s push into the top six of the Championship has been recognised with a manager of the month nomination for Alex Neil.

The Deepdale boss is on a four-man shortlist for the award, with the winner being announced tomorrow.

North End were unbeaten in September, winning three and drawing three – scoring 11 goals and conceding five.

They rose as high as fourth place and have gone into the international break in sixth, level on points with Bristol City and Leeds.

That good form has been despite the absence of some key players, Ben Pearson 
missing the full month due to injury, with Paul Gallagher, Greg Cunningham and Tom Clarke other absentees.

Neil’s competition for the Sky Bet award comes from Lee Johnson (Bristol City), Steve Bruce (Aston Villa) and Daniel Farke (Norwich City).

Nominating the PNE boss for the award, Sky Bet said: “If August was an inspired first month in charge at Deepdale, September was even better as Neil steadily navigated his team’s path through six unbeaten games, collecting 12 points and led North End into the play-off positions.”

Among the judging panel are former Ipswich manager George Burley and Sky Sports pundit Don Goodman.

Neil has been at pains to point out the young average age of his squad when talking about the good start.

“We have to remember as a club where these kids have come from,” said Neil.

“Josh Earl was playing at Lancaster last season, Ben Davies was in League One and Darnell Fisher got relegated with Rotherham.”

As PNE look to push on when action resumes after the international break, Neil says they will have to mix and match their approach.

First and foremost he wants to see a passing style, but there will be times during games when something a bit different if needed.

Said Neil: “We are not here to play fancy football, we are here to play effective, winning football.

“If that means we can get the ball and pass it, then that is the first port of call.

“But if at times we need to turn the opposition’s defence and play it forward, we need to do that.

“Each game we play we will be up against a team with a slightly different approach and we have to deal with that to win.

“We saw that in our last game against Sunderland.

“The way they set up was to counter-attack us when we lost the ball.

“Sunderland tried to get us turned and facing our own goal, which makes it hard to defend.

“It is about learning from that and knowing how to deal with it better.”