Sean Gregan’s EXCLUSIVE Preston North End column: Don’t judge PNE on last few games

Sean Maguire takes on West Bromwich Albion's Matt Phillips
Sean Maguire takes on West Bromwich Albion's Matt Phillips

It was frustrating to say the least to watch Preston slip to a controversial late defeat against West Bromwich Albion at the start of the week.

I always thought referees had to be certain of what they had seen to award a penalty.

Could the referee on this occasion say 100% he had seen contact and point to the spot?

To make a call like that so late in a big game was a brave one but try telling that to North End. For almost 90 minutes they had held out against a West Bromwich side who have a Premier League-standard squad and play some decent stuff under Slaven Bilic.

The visitors pinned them in for a spell in the first half but in the second, Preston grew in confidence and got up the pitch better, having a couple of good chances.

They were worthy of a point and to have it snatched away from them in the manner they did was cruel.

While North End have fallen off the top of the table and indeed out of the top two, it is not as if they have tumbled too far down the division.

They remain in the top six going into the weekend, which is respectable.

If they can find their form again, there are plenty of games this month to get a run going and climb a couple of places higher.

At the moment you wouldn’t bet against Albion and Leeds being the top two, with Fulham not far away.

Then it could be anyone to come out of the pack, including PNE.

They play Queens Park Rangers now and there will be a big support behind them down in London.

It should be a decent game – Jordan Hugill has been banging them in for QPR and will be a threat.

Some people might expect Preston to not get anything down there after the way the last three games have gone, so that could take the pressure off.

The sensible thing with PNE is to judge them on what they have done so far this season and not just on the last two weeks.

In the Premier League, Everton became the fourth club to sack their manager this season.

At this stage of the season that is quite a high number, with top-flight clubs usually slightly less trigger-happy than those in the Football League.

Watford have sacked twice, Tottenham parted company with Mauricio Pochettino, with Arsenal dismissing Unai Emery.

Now Marco Silva has paid the price for a poor run of results at Everton and it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see him go.

In the Premier League, owners are terrified of missing out on some of the money on offer.

Clubs at the top end fear dropping out of the Champions League places, the next batch of clubs don’t want to miss out on the Europa League.

Further down, dropping out of the Premier League altogether is something owners are desperate to avoid – hence managers are sacked.