Sean Gregan’s exclusive column: Alex Neil’s work in training is paying dividends at Preston

Preston North End manager Alex Neil
Preston North End manager Alex Neil

The job which Alex Neil is doing at Preston North End can only be applauded and long may the good form continue.

Neil is obviously a very good coach, you can see that with the tactical approach to games and how players have developed their game under him.

I’m told he likes to do a lot of the coaching himself and that is what David Moyes used to do when I was player at Deepdale.

I like a manager who rolls up his sleeves and gets out on to the training pitch.

As a player you appreciate it when a manager is doing the main coaching.

I’ve been at other clubs where it is the No.2 or one of the other coaches doing the bulk of the coaching while the manager observes from the sidelines or isn’t there.

It is annoying when you think you have done well in training yet the manager has overlooked you when it comes to picking the team.

Moyesy used to be out there doing all the coaching with us, getting our shape right and trying to make us better players.

I sense Neil is the same and the Preston players have responded to that.

Results this season have been very good and I’m sure most fans would have settled for third place heading into the October break.

Beating Barnsley 5-1 last week was a wonderful win and a nice way sign-off for a couple of weeks.

That win saw North End become highest goalscorers in the Championship which is decent going.

For all their good results in the last couple of seasons, the goals didn’t always fly in.

So to have 23 after 11 league games is pleasing and there’s only been one league game when they haven’t scored.

The goals have been spread around which takes the pressure off the lads in attack and means threats are coming from all over the pitch.

Daniel Johnson scored another two goals and is out in front as leading scorer.

There you have a player operating with confidence, finding the net and providing assists for others.

After the Barnsley win, you might say the break in action has come at the wrong time. However, a rest won’t do any harm.

Players will be carrying knocks and a couple of days rest, spending time with the family, can be of real benefit.

Being on the training pitch without the pressure of a game to prepare for, means you can get work done.

There’s another batch of games to prepare for ahead of the next break where North End can hopefully continue to accumulate lots of points.

Just casting an eye into the Premier League, I won’t write off Manchester City for the title despite them being adrift of Liverpool.

City came back from a big deficit last season and these are early days, that said I’m impressed with Liverpool.

Watching Manchester United last week, whoever decided to pay £52m for Fred deserves sacking.

If we were still playing, I would fancy myself and Mark Rankine to give that lad a game in midfielder!