Tom Sandells' Press View: There is still plenty of time for Preston North End in the transfer market
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Each signing has been quite different to the last but all serve their own purpose.
Freddie Woodman’s capture was essential if North End were to even have a chance of challenging for the top six this season.
He has a very tough act to follow, in the form of last season’s player of the year Daniel Iversen who has gone back to parent club Leicester City. With Iversen’s quality and consistency over the last 18 months there is almost now an expectation that whoever is in goal for PNE will be tough to beat.
Due to the Dane’s form and the constant comparisons to past loans, he and the likes of Jordan Pickford and Sam Johnstone are still fresh in the mind.
That means the bar is set very high, and off previous showings that should not be an issue for Woodman.
He has shown excellent quality in his previous seasons in the Championship, winning the golden glove in one his play-off seasons with Swansea City.
He was the only goalkeeper at the club until Dai Cornell signed. Another ‘keeper with second tier experience, his role is much different and quite clear.
He is to keep Woodman honest, should he slip up, the Welshman must be ready to step up, but he is very much and understudy in boss Ryan Lowe’s plans.
Then came Ben Woodburn and Robbie Brady, both doing enough on trial to earn themselves initial one-year-deals. Brady more so than the former satisfies a need for PNE and that was at left wing back, with Josh Earl departing this summer.
Are any of the four signings to date a massive, marquee, statement signing? Not really – although Woodman joining at 25 on a three-year-deal is as close to it as you can get, though ‘keepers are rarely flagship acquisitions.
But do they need to be? No.
We are currently in July, the transfer window closes on September 1, which is over 50 days away.
We have seen so far this window that North End can act quickly in getting multiple deals done, whether that be Woodman and Cornell joining in quick succession or Woodburn and Brady signing on the same day.
So with 50 plus days to go, what is the rush?
I do understand some frustrations, fans have paid their money up front to back the club this summer and they expect to see some of it coming back their way. That is completely understandable but there is nothing to say that it won’t.
There are still some holes in the squad and that is no secret to anyone, not least Lowe.
He has spoken about his need for another left wing back, a right wing back, a striker. That is all being worked on.
The goalkeeper department was entirely vacant – not anymore. That is good work in the market with proven players coming in.
It can be done and already has been.
The inquest on North End’s summer can begin on September 2, but at the moment there is no major rush for PNE.
It will always look worse when those around you are either spending or just recruiting more – for comparison, Middlesbrough are arguably having one of the better windows but they are set to sell Djed Spence to Tottenham Hotspur for around £15m.
Cardiff City have also signed 10 players and some are well established at this level, they have also been paying out some very handsome wages to players whose deals have only just expired, and have been achieving a lot less than North End whilst spending a lot more.
So everything is relative. PNE do need bodies in, yes, but they do not require the overhaul of some of their rivals nor do they have eight figure fees on the horizon.
They still have time on their side, despite the longer things go on the more anxious those on the outside may become.
In an ideal scenario, would they have half a dozen new players in for the first day of pre-season? Yes and no. That would work well for Lowe’s system and the teaching of that, but that would then leave them open to criticism that they did not see how the market played out and adapted to it.
If they wait until the last minute there will be plenty of players they supposedly miss out on that they should have got and should not have waited for.
If they sprinkle them throughout the summer there will be periods where there are lulls and then the anxiety rises.
It is a pretty thankless job and there does not seem to be a perfect solution or way of going about it. But not having players in still means that top quality players may still arrive, had they made their signings already and fans were not happy with them, you’re stuck with them.
We will not be deciding the fate of PNE’s seasons after 15 games, so there should be no judgements made on the transfer window when only a third of it has passed so far.
Lowe took charge of the Lilywhites last season after 21 games, their season changed dramatically as did many other things at the club.
A week can be a long time in football, never mind having eight of them at your disposal.
Attention, for now, should instead turn to enjoying the pre-season camp and the game against Getafe.
With five coaches going to the game it is an opportunity to just enjoy North End, transfers will come, but can wait just a handful of days whilst the travelling contingent take over a rather unsuspecting golf club to cheer on Lowe’s men. And hopefully in a shiny new kit too.