Ryan Lowe's rallying call with Preston North End frustration high ahead of Norwich trip
Preston North End manager Ryan Lowe fielded several questions on his team's poor form and frustration around the club, in Thursday's pre-match press conference.
The overriding message from the PNE boss - who brought up his two year anniversary as North End boss - was the need for greater belief and to get back to doing the basics which served Preston well at the start of the season.
Have a read of Lowe's thoughts below.
On thriving off unity and togetherness and his determination to bring that back
"Yeah, of course," said Lowe. "I think we've always had it, with the lads. It hurts you doesn't it, when you lose a game of football? Your weekend is ruined. People think you go out and party or whatever. You don't, you are analysing and looking at how you can get better. I have a fantastic group of staff, players and what we all need to do is look to get better. That's always been my motto, but having that unity and togetherness is the way we'll continue to do things - because for six years it has worked and we are not going to change. It's a little bit more hard work in certain areas - that's the only thing that'll change. And me, instilling belief in the players that they can get to where they want to and win more games of football."
On the fans and die hard supporters who will make the long trip to Norwich
"I love the fans to pieces, although I get some stick off them I'm sure," said Lowe. "And I do, but whatever club I'm engrained in, I have it with them. That is me. I think you have seen it. Anything I can do to make the fans be happy, I will do. One of my main attributes as a manager is making sure the fans feel the love and feel what we want to do. Since I've been in the building, season ticket sales have gone up - albeit they're a bit cheaper. I think the fan base has been galvanised as such and the away fans have been great.
"The home fans have been excellent all season, up until QPR. But again, I get it. Do I like it? No. Were we frustrated? Yeah. There are certain things you can say which are borderline - and call me whatever you want, which isn't slanderous if that makes sense. There will be hard fans travelling to Norwich and we want to be clapped off the pitch, not booed off. Our die hard fans will be turning out in their numbers and travelling to Norwich, with it always in the back of our minds that they are with us, have travelled all that way and paid their hard earned money.
"It's one of our go-tos: do it for them and not just yourself and the football club. So yeah, we know they will travel and support in their numbers. We've got to make sure they are loud and proud by performing on the pitch. So yeah, being away at Norwich, does it take a bit of the pressure off as such, in that we're not at home and the lads can just go out and be free flowing? Potentially, I don't know. We will soon see, but one thing we know is that it's not us against the fans. We are all in it together."
On the level of frustration at PNE when things aren't going well
"It's expectations isn't it?" said Lowe. "I think I am the only manager in the north west (at a club) who haven't been in the top flight. It's coming with me, to try and do that. Of course it's hard work. Do you get there overnight? No, you definitely don't. All I try and do is give it my all, on a daily basis, for the football club - along with my staff and players. I know we've got a good team in there - and when they play and believe in themselves, we are that. So, that's what we've got to get back to. We know, at this football club, the expectations are high and so it should be. But, let's not forget how far we've come and where we've come from. That's our motto, of keep building and doing the right things."
On the challenge of balancing ambition with managing expectation
"Yeah, it is (tough), because sometimes you have to pull the reins back," said Lowe. "And sometimes I think it's not as easy as I thought it was going to be. And sometimes the players are thinking it's a tough league, while other managers are trying to counteract you. Whatever way it is tactically, it's 24/7 in your head. That is the Championship, but that's why we love it and that's why we love management. There will be teams up and down the country who go through good and bad patches. We are in a bad one at the moment, but we've had many good ones as well. The quicker we get back to being us, then the place is better isn't it?"
Has it been tougher than you imagined, coming to Preston and managing in the Championship?
"I have loved every minute at this football club," said Lowe. "I work with good people. Peter (Ridsdale) is fantastic. I know he comes in for a lot of criticism - probably as well as I do at the moment. But, the stuff he does behind the scenes, nobody knows - a 70-year-old fella who has taken the club from League One and stabilised the football club. And then for Craig (Hemmings) to take over the mantle from his dad - God bless - and keep doing the right things along with the family, it is unquestionable really, what they do and how they do it. But, we are what we are and have to try and overachieve in certain areas.
"We have to recruit smartly, which I believe we have done. And we have to stick to the structure of the club. Is it tough seeing teams with parachute payments? Of course it is, thinking 'why can't that be us?' But what you have to do is be privileged and I am privileged to manage Preston North End Football Club and work with the people I work with. Even though we'd all love to have this and that, we have to stick to Financial Fair Play rules. It is tough, but winning every single week is unrealistic isn't it? For what we are and what Preston North End is, we need to keep trying to overachieve and if we do that we'll do something great."
On what is needed to turn things around
"For us, it's about being solid, compact and keeping the back door shut first and foremost, because we know we've got good players, who can get up the other end of the pitch and score goals," said Lowe. "We have to have small building blocks now, to get us back to where we were and whenever that win comes, it will come with real hunger and desire. I always believe if you work hard, you will get your results and get what you put in."