Sean Gregan’s exclusive column: North End’s start to the season has been strong

Preston North End's manager Alex Neil
Preston North End's manager Alex Neil

I would describe Preston North End’s start to the season as a good one, with the form in front of the home supporters at Deepdale very encouraging.

Three Championship wins out of three at home is excellent and getting things right on your own pitch is so important.

In the past couple of years, North End have been better away, they were set-up to play on the counter-attack which suited them on their travels.

Sometimes a team needs a different set of tactics for home and away.

At home, you can set up more to attack and take the game to the opposition but without leaving yourselves too exposed.

Away, a counter-attacking approach can be effective.

That is not always going to be a perfect formula but it could well bring consistency.

The first away point was gained at Nottingham Forest which was another step in the right direction.

To have 10 points as we reach the first international break is decent going.

After the first-day defeat to Millwall there was a bit of doom and gloom around and a worry that another poor start was on the cards.

So for North End to have picked-up from there and pushed on is pleasing.

What Alex Neil will have been pleased about is how the goals have been shared around so far.

They have scored 17 goals and 10 players have supplied them which is an interesting statistic.

When you have not got a 25-goal-a-season striker who can be your focal point of the team, you need goals to come from all over the pitch.

You are still going to need a player who will get double figures comfortably, but he needs backing-up regularly by others.

Strikers who score 20 plus goals a season cost big fees and attract big wages.

If you manage to unearth a gem who scores plenty, than they tend to be wanted by other clubs.

We have seen that happen with strikers down the years at North End, so being able to spread the goals around won’t go amiss.

Daniel Johnson has got four goals, Josh Harrop three, while a couple of lads have got two apiece.

Hopefully they can keep that going in the next few weeks and months, Preston having a regular supply of goals.

A big boost last week came in landing Manchester City in the Carabao Cup third round draw.

To have the Premier League champions and the holders of the Carabao Cup at Deepdale will be a big night for North End and hopefully watched by a pack ground.

It doesn’t matter what team City send, their second XI would probably finish in the top four in the Premier League.

When Preston played City in my time as a player, the teams were on level pegging.

I remember Jon Macken scoring that worldy against City at Deepdale in 2001 which probably earned him his big-money move there a few months later.

We played them in what is now League One, winning at Maine Road with a penalty from Gary Parkinson.