Ryan Lowe says Preston North End could have nine extra points but highlights what must change

PNE have won two of their last 12 games in the Championship
Ryan Lowe Ryan Lowe
Ryan Lowe

Preston North End manager Ryan Lowe admits it has been a 'tough' period - but wants his players to show greater belief in order to get through it.

The Lilywhites have lost their last three Championship matches - to QPR, Middlesbrough and Cardiff City - and won two of their last 12 games. North End's form has faltered, but PNE still head into Saturday's clash at Norwich City in eighth spot.

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That is thanks to Preston's strong start to the campaign, with Lowe's side winning six games and drawing two. Now, improvement is needed to prevent North End from falling further down the table. Frustration among the Deepdale faithful is high and pressure is on Lowe to turn things around.

"It's always tough isn't it?" said Lowe. "When you are not winning games or performing to the level that you know your players can, of course it is tough. But, what you've got to do is be strong, be powerful and have that real emphasis of things changing very quickly in football. You go through tough times and tough times don't last, tough people do. That's what I am: a tough lad. Of course it hurts - you don't want to be losing games of football, feeling like you're letting people down.

"We understand the responsibilities we have - me as the manager and the players as players. Do I get it? Yeah. Do I like it? No, but I get it. So, it is tough, but when you've got good people around you - that's the most important thing in football. I feel I've got that. All we can do is coach the players to the best of our ability. Our main aim is to get back to being us, because Middlesbrough wasn't us for large parts of the game and second half against QPR wasn't us.

"I think the four minutes of madness against Cardiff kicked the stuffing out of us - and we just haven't recovered from that as of yet. Hopefully we can get back to being strong, solid, resolute, keeping the back door shut, creating more chances and scoring more goals - because I believe in the group that they can do it. All I want is for the group to get back to being them: blocking shots, stopping crosses, being braver, kicking it, being calm and collected on the ball.

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"We've spoken about giving them a little bit of belief, for them to believe how good they are because they've proven they are good players. They know they can do it and the hardest part is getting them to believe in that. As the manager, I've got to make sure they start believing - not their own hype, or getting carried away, because we are what we are. But, believing how good they can be. I know the points difference now is two points off the play-offs, but also two or three off 15th. We get that, of course.

"But, we are still in a fantastic position. I get, if you keep losing games, you will end up dropping down the division. We know that and are aware of that. But, with where we are, there shouldn't really be any panic. Yeah, we've lost three on the bounce and that isn't good enough. It's how we put it right. When we start believing, we can achieve it. I don't look for excuses but when you go back and debrief, we probably should be sitting here with another nine points.

"Southampton, if we deal with that, two points. Cardiff, depending on which way you look at that, one or two points. The penalty against Millwall. We should've had a penalty against someone else (Hull City). We potentially could've had nine more points, if decisions went our way. But, I am not going to harp on about those - it's hard enough for referees as it is. That little bit of luck wasn't on our side, so the fact is that the points aren't there. It possibly could've been a little bit different: sitting in the play-offs. But, we are not and what we need to do is get better all over the park."

And on whether the performances were much better in the first seven games, or if Preston just found themselves on the right side of fine margins, Lowe said: "Well, I'd probably contradict myself if I said 'no' wouldn't I? Because, as bizarrely as it sounds, when you look at those games back, we were just okay in some games. Maybe we had a bit of luck, but we did the fundamentals right and basics right. And that's what got us results."

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