Ryan Lowe’s take on Preston North End’s alarming attacking data this season

Preston North End boss Ryan LowePreston North End boss Ryan Lowe
Preston North End boss Ryan Lowe | CameraSport - Dave Howarth
PNE are ninth in the table but some of the Lilywhites’ attacking data has left cause for concern

Preston North End’s manager Ryan Lowe understands any attention around his side’s attacking data this season - but isn’t focusing on it too much himself.

The Lilywhites had a sublime start the season, winning six games in a row and thus finding themselves towards the top of the Championship table. However, PNE have now gone seven games without a win. North End still sit steadily in ninth spot, heading into the weekend’s clash against Coventry City at Deepdale.

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Preston have scored 18 goals in their 14 fixtures this campaign, winning six games, drawing four and losing as many. But, it is the underlying metrics such as shots, shots on target, expected goals (xG), shot creating actions and expected threat which sparked some concern across social media this week. Lowe offered his take in Thursday’s pre-match press conference.

“Yeah, well all these stat men out there, they work off stats and I quite like stats to an extent,” Lowe told the Lancashire Post. “But, underlying numbers can be false can’t they? We were third or fourth or fifth when these underlying numbers came out and yeah, there’s obviously a reason for it, but we’ve been clinical in every shot we’ve taken. So, you are probably having the better shots and scoring more goals, than having more shots with no goals.

“So, underlying numbers can be there for people to look at and read into. I do get it, but if you look at our underlying numbers last season and the first season I came in, they were fantastic - but we weren’t scoring enough goals. So, I will leave that to your imagination. But, ultimately it doesn’t matter, as long as you win games of football. Whichever way the underlying numbers are; Luton’s underlying numbers last season potentially won’t have been great.

“I don’t know that for sure, but with the way they played, they are now performing in the Premier League. That is where they are, so you can look at it in different ways. I don’t worry about too much, because when you are collecting points and you’re winning, underlying numbers can mean anything. You could ask managers if they would swap underlying numbers for more numbers but with fewer points, and they’d probably say they would swap. So, I am fine with it, but I understand it.”

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Lowe added: “You’ve come from first to fourth to eighth to ninth, but we’ve still been scoring goals and the shot selections we’ve been making have been better than normal. If you looked at some of our shots from last season, they were probably wayward and from places where you’re never scoring. Whereas, we’ve been clinical in our shot selection. I think we were in the top three for shot selection. There is a good underlying number, to say when we do take our shots and big chances, we score big goals in big moments.

“There are times when you can’t create loads of chances, just because the opposition can be better than you on the day. That’s fine, we’re aware of that and don’t mind that. Forget the wages, budgets and parachute payments, it doesn’t really matter. Our lads have outperformed most weeks. We overperform and that’s what I want from my players. I feel my players are just as good as anyone’s in the division. Managers will question that and feel different but for me, I’ve got every faith in my players to go out, perform and be better than the ones they are up against.

“You have to have trust in your players as a manager, but they have to have trust and belief in you that you’re giving them the right instructions. In terms of overperforming, I think Preston overperform most years, because you have to. I am fine with that. As long as our lads keep doing what we ask them to do, then we’ll get more goals and points, definitely. We’ve scored goals, haven’t we?

“We haven’t scored large amounts of goals, but I don’t think many teams will in this division - except the exceptional ones and exceptional strikers maybe. I am not saying we haven’t got those, but again we’ve been a little bit different of course. We’ve been a bit more direct, playing into their half and trying to find a formula of playing more football in the opposition half - rather than our half.”

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