Preston North End skipper delivers a blunt assessment of his season ahead of Gentry Day clash at Barnsley

Preston North End skipper Alan Browne has given a pretty blunt assessment of his season as the campaign nears its conclusion.

By Dave Seddon
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 4:45 pm

It’s Gentry Day on Saturday at Barnsley as the Lilywhites travel for the last time this season, before the home clash with Middlesbrough on May 7 brings the curtain down on 2021/22.

Browne has featured in 37 Championship games this season starting 33 of them, with his goal in Monday night’s 4-1 defeat to Blackburn Rovers just the third time he has scored at club level this term.

Always honest and rather self-critical, Browne has not sugar-coated the last nine months which will see North End finish in the mid-table placings.

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"I think I could have had more of an impact on the team,” said 27-year-old Browne.

"It just got a bit ‘nice’ at times in the building. You can maybe dig people out and that helps the team, not just me.

"On the other side of it, I need to be getting more goals, more assists, to make a difference to this team.

"It might be okay if you have a good game but if you lose 1-0 or 2-0 you aren’t really making much of an impact.

Alan Browne celebrates with Cameron Archer after the striker's winning goal for Preston North End against Blackpool

"I know I can do better because I have done so in the past. I think I have probably let games pass me by at times which from next season is something I can’t let happen.

"For us I have got three goals and one for my country. It’s tough to reach the heights of when I scored 12 or 13 in a season, but those are the standards I set myself and I haven’t matched them for the past two or three years.

“My performances haven’t been where I want them to be. It’s easy saying I need to be better but it will show next season when I put the work in and the team puts the work in.”

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Preston North End skipper Alan Browne

North End changed managers just before the half-way stage of the season, Ryan Lowe stepping in after Frankie McAvoy’s short time at the helm with the head coach title.

Browne thinks PNE have steadily adjusted to Lowe’s way of playing and that pre-season will see them fully adapted.

"Working with the gaffer in pre-season will make a difference,” said the Republic of Ireland international.

"We know what he wants now, he has been here a few months.

Preston North End manager Ryan Lowe gives instructions to skipper Alan Browne

" It might not look like the penny has fully dropped yet because we have been inconsistent but we do know what he wants. It’s about taking that out on to the pitch.

"Not every game is going to be the same and maybe some people have taken it too literally when they have been given something to do.

"But things can change in the course of a game and you need to make decisions on the pitch because you are the ones out there who can affect it.”

Browne says having to play catch-up from the early weeks of the season ultimately made it an inconsistent campaign for North End and left them in that middle pack rather than having any involvement in the chase for the play-offs.

They lost the first three league games of the season, then won a couple, before embarking on a run of draws.

The form throughout has been patchy, PNE never winning more than twice on the bounce.

It’s for that reason that a couple of results Browne highlights are probably viewed as not being good as they were actually were.

Browne said: “Sometimes we’ve had to chase games because we needed the three points, we weren’t able to just hang in a game for a point because it wasn’t really enough.

"You think of the Huddersfield and Nottingham Forest games here, both those teams are in the play-offs and we drew 0-0 against them.

"They probably came here knowing Deepdale is a tough place to go and looking to hang on in there – if they could nick a win, great, if not be happy with a point and roll it into the next game.

"Those were games we really needed to win because we had fallen behind in terms of being higher up the table. Sometimes a draw against teams up there can be useful, but we needed wins.”

Browne is looking forward to Gentry Day, the first live on since April 2019 due to the pandemic.

Having been at PNE since 2014, it’s an occasion the midfielder knows all about and has been a part of several times.

"Given the way the season has gone, we had the Blackpool game to look forward to, Blackburn which ended up being a shocker, and Gentry Day,” said Browne.

“Saturday’s game is something for the fans to look forward to. People will definitely have lost a loved one or someone close to them over the last couple of years, so it’s good for the fans to come together – players included.

"We can bounce off each other and hopefully we can give them a performance which fits Gentry Day and can keep the atmosphere lively.

"Often we do have to explain to the players who come here what Gentry Day is all about. The players who have been here for a few years know what a special day it is and how much the fans look forward to it.

"It can be a hard one to explain to those who don’t know about it, the bowler hats and everything, but it’s very special.”