Preston North End boss Alex Neil defends formation and forwards

Preston North End boss Alex Neil has defended his team's formation and the under fire forwards in his side.

By Tom Sandells
Tuesday, 30th June 2020, 6:42 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th June 2020, 7:44 pm

In the wake of PNE's 3-1 loss to Cardiff City, a stat was circulated around social media that less than 5% of North End's goals have come from those that naturally play in the no.9 position.

That particular point highlighted Sean Maguire, Jayden Stockley and David Nugent's totals of four, two and one goal respectively, although Tom Barkhuizen and Billy Bodin have both played and scored in the no.9 position.

For Neil, there is no need to switch up the shape to include more than one central striker in order to get goals from the focal point.

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Alex Neil at a wet Deepdale.

"It's a load of nonsense. Jordan Hugill had 11 goals before Christmas before we sold him," he said.

"Lewis Grabban plays up front as a one himself and has scored 19, Karlan Grant plays up front as a one on his own and has scored 16. I can go on and on and on.

"Mitrovic is the top scorer in the league and plays up front by himself, Ollie Watkins is one of the top scorers in the league he plays up front by himself.

"When it comes to teams that play 4-4-2 in the league there's about two of them and that's it. Birmingham are one and there will be another one somewhere else, it was Millwall but they've changed their shape a little.

"There's nothing the matter with the shape, the shape is fine. The simple fact is, our biggest chances of scoring at the moment in games seem to be the midfield players. DJ's scored 12, Tom Barkhuizen's scored 11."

The Scot admits he would like his forwards to find the back of the net more but it's their all-round game that matters to him too.

He said: "Would I like my forwards to score more? Course I would. Would they like to score more? Of course they would. Have they had the opportunities? At times, yeah.

"David Nugent had a great chance at the weekend, Seani had a great chance at Luton. The simple fact is they're not going to take all the chances.

"What it does do is show how remarkable we've done to be in the position we're in when we've had five of our last 52 goals from forwards.

"But I'm not going to use that to try and beat them up because our forward players give us a shift and they work as hard as they can.

"That's not something I'm going to use against them in any way, shape or form."