PNE will prosper from a first pre-season under boss Ryan Lowe — says former Lilywhites skipper Graham Alexander

Former Preston North End captain Graham Alexander believes that Deepdale boss Ryan Lowe will benefit from having a full pre-season with the Lilywhites.

By Dan Black
Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 6:00 am

The ex-Bury manager became Frankie McAvoy's successor in December after making the switch from Plymouth Argyle, who were fourth in League One at the time of his departure.

North End lost just once in 11 Championship games after the Liverpudlian moved into the hot seat, collecting 20 points from that schedule as the 2008-09 play-off semi-finalists once again flirted with the top six.

They would, however, lose five more times from mid-February onwards as they closed the campaign in mid-table with 64 points. "You can't pick and choose when you're going to go into a club," said Alexander, who took charge at Fir Park halfway into the 2020-21 season.

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PRESTON, ENGLAND - APRIL 15: Ryan Lowe, Manager of Preston North End speaks to the media after the Sky Bet Championship match between Preston North End and Millwall at Deepdale on April 15, 2022 in Preston, England. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

"I had it when we went into Motherwell in January and you've just got to focus on getting the best out of players right from the off.

"That's the challenge you often have as a manager, it's not always the ideal scenario where you've got a 6-8 week lead up to a season, sometimes you're just thrown in at the deep end and you have to win games."

Alexander made the most of a full summer's preparation with The Steelmen when guiding the club to a sixth place finish in the SPL as they clinched a Europa Conference League spot.

And the former Fleetwood Town boss, who also governed Scunthorpe United and Salford City after becoming only the second outfield player in English football history to have made 1,000 professional appearances, after Tony Ford, is confident that Preston will prosper with a first pre-season under Lowe.

22 Apr 2001: Graham Alexander of Preston North End scores Preston's first goal from the penalty spot during the Nationwide First Division match between Preston North End and Watford at Deepdale, Preston. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Gary M. Prior/ALLSPORT

Alexander, who netted a late equaliser for North End against Charlton Athletic with the final kick of his career, said: "Every manager will tell you that pre-season is so important, it's not season-defining because there are lots of things happening but, without a shadow of a doubt, a broken pre-season can make it a struggle, especially for players who need to get up and running to find that consistency.

"Pre-season is really important for a manager to get his ideas across, to make sure players are as fit as they possibly can be and be resilient for what's ahead. They've got to prepare their bodies to play 40/50 games and you can only do that by having that consistency in your preparation."

He concluded: "It's a really important time, pre-season friendlies are important to get players building up to the right level at the right time. Sometimes you can have the best or worst pre-season, however, and when the first game comes it's a completely different scenario.

"There's always a different feel and different emotion when the season starts and that can take up to four games to get up to speed with that. It's a really important time for a manager and players, getting to know new team-mates, so every manager will now be making their plans."