Preston North End boss Alex Neil hails long-term approach over players’ deals

Alex Neil applauds the North End hierarchy's approach
Alex Neil applauds the North End hierarchy's approach

Alex Neil has applauded the planning strategy Preston have in getting their younger players on long-term deals.

Last week, Ben Davies put pen to paper on a contract which runs until 2021.

Tom Barkhuizen, Alan Browne, Ben Pearson, Josh Earl and Callum Robinson are among others to have signed new deals this season.

Davies’ contract replaced one he only signed last July, its terms reflecting the progress he has made this campaign as well as adding another year.

North End manager Neil told the Post: “The strategy here and the willingness to move the club forward has impressed me.

“A lot of the foundations and plans were in place long before my time.

“All that I’m trying to do is enhance them, speed them up, if you will. The people at the higher level, Peter Ridsdale and the owner, deserve huge credit for overseeing it.

“This has been going on since we were struggling in League One – we are now eighth in the Championship.

“There has probably been a revolution here over the last few seasons which has largely gone unnoticed.”

It is the ongoing approach to contracts and the ability to buy in the transfer windows which Neil says is so vital in the long term.

Keeping the current crop of players together and adding to the squad along the way has the potential to bring success.

Said Neil: “The way we keep tabs on contracts and make sure we don’t allow them to run down is a big thing.

“It makes sure we get the maximum value if there is a player we sell.

“Then we are always looking at how we can improve all positions when the transfer windows come along.

“That type of stuff can get neglected at some clubs, how many times have you seen players run down their 
contracts and leave?

“Look at the situation with Jordan Hugill here, we were 
always in control of that.

“Jordan was running his contract down but we held all the cards.

“It is important the players are valued and we pay them as well as we can to for the job they do on the pitch.

“But they are employees too, they are helping us and we are helping them.

“Our approach is that we are not solely about here and now, that makes a difference.

“There has to be a medium and a longer-term view, that is how you keep a club healthy.

“If you can have a good blend in the squad – players at their peak and younger ones coming through – then it sets you up for success.”