Preston boss Alex Neil thinks Sheffield Wednesday came to the end of a cycle

Preston boss Alex Neil thinks Sheffield Wednesday reaching the end of a ‘cycle’ has been the reason for a below-par season at Hillsborough.

The South Yorkshire side were play-off semi-finalists last year and finalists in 2016 but have endured something of a struggle this campaign.

Atdhe Nuhiu celebrates scoring Sheffied Wednesday's first goal in the 2-1 win at Leeds

Atdhe Nuhiu celebrates scoring Sheffied Wednesday's first goal in the 2-1 win at Leeds

North End will face an Owls side in 17th place when they cross the Pennines, their 2-1 victory over Leeds before the international break ending a seven-game winless run in league and cup.

Carlos Carvalhal was at the helm until Christmas Eve, a parting of the ways done very much by mutual consent.

Within four days he had got the Swansea job and the chance to try his hand in the Premier League.

Jos Luhukay is now at the controls, his track record in German football catching the eye of the Owls owner.

Neil does not think the dip Wednesday have taken this season reflected particularly badly on Carvalhal.

“It doesn’t mean you are a bad manager or a bad coach,” said Neil.

“If you look where Carlos has gone to and what he has done there, it shows he knows what he is doing.

“Sometimes you get to the point where for team, for the club and for yourself, the best thing is to freshen it up and move on.

“You sometimes get to the end of a cycle and the key is freshening it up when it needs doing.

“I think Sir Alex Ferguson was the best at that.

“When it got to the end of a cycle, instead of him being recycled he recycled everyone else.

“If you get to that point like he did, you are doing all right.”

Luhukay, who hails from Holland, has won four of his 16 games in charge to date.

Only two of those have been in the Championship and Wednesday left it late to beat Leeds the last time out.

Leading at Elland Road through an Atdhe Nuhiu goal, they were pegged back in the 86th minute.

But Nuhiu struck again in the 90th minute to claim a big three points.

Kosovo international Nuhiu now has seven goals for the season, three of them in the FA Cup.

Wednesday’s top scorer is Gary Hooper with 11 goals but the ex-Norwich man last played on Boxing Day because of a groin injury and is not due back yet.

Wednesday have three former Preston players in their squad in Adam Reach, Ross Wallace and David Jones.

Reach spent much of the 2015/16 season on loan at PNE from Middlesbrough.

He then moved for £5m to Wednesday in August 2016 and has been playing in the left wing-back role.

Wallace had two years with Preston, initially on loan from Sunderland before moving permanently.

The Scotsman is currently sidelined with a knee injury and will miss the remainder of the season.

Midfielder Jones had a loan spell at Deepdale in 2005 from Manchester United, playing 27 matches and scoring three goals.