SEAN GREGAN'S EXCLUSIVE COLUMN
I have got to admit that I did not see Preston North End's 5-0 defeat at Brentford coming, especially with them going to London on the back of a good win in midweek.
They had beaten Cardiff 3-0 during the week and by all accounts, played very well in that game.
So to go to Griffin Park and see such a big swing in the scoreline, was surprising to say the least.
The late collapse, with PNE conceding three minutes so close together towards the end, was a worry.
Whether it was a case of their heads going or just being too open, I’m not sure.
Okay, they were down to 10 men at the time with all the substitutions made when Marnick Vermijl had to go off injured.
But teams have played with 10 men before, it is something you practice in training.
Managers put on sessions where you line up with two banks of four and play against 11 men.
You stay in your shape, get behind the ball, and work hard. If you have to play with 10 men in a game, you put those principles into action.
Saturday’s 5-0 defeat was a freak result, as a player you do get them at some stage in your career.
Preston got hammered 5-0 at Gillingham on the opening day of the 2001/02 season when I was captain here.
During my Oldham days, we were once 4-0 down at half-time.
They are not nice days and you try and use such results as motivation – make sure a result like that doesn’t come again.
It is six defeats in the first eight Championship games for North End.
However you try and dress it up, that is not a good start and PNE need to find some consistency to their game in order to climb the table.
I thought the win against Cardiff was a sign that they could get themselves on some sort of run.
They played with a lot of confidence in that one, had three different scorers and will have had their tails up.
All that said, it is hard to judge Championship results at the moment.
Newcastle went to Queens Park Rangers last Tuesday and won 6-0.
On Saturday, they lost 2-0 at St James’ Park to Wolves, a side who had just been beaten 4-0 at home by Barnsley.
What can you read into a sequence of results like that?
The answer is not a lot – the division has not settled down yet and there will be plenty of twists and turns as the weeks and months go by.
I have always thought that the Championship is a tough old division to get out of.
The prize for those who get promoted is massive and it is a fair old grind to get there.
There were huge amounts of money spent during the transfer window – it was not unusual to see fees of £10m or above.
During my days at Preston, when we played at this level, £1m for a player was judged to be a big fee.
We signed David Healy from Manchester United for about £1.5m in December 2000 which was jaw-dropping for us.
The modern transfer fees certainly eclipse the £300,000 which North End brought me from Darlington for!
Talking of Darlington, we were down in Lancashire on Saturday to play Lancaster City in the FA Cup.
Fair play to Lancaster, they played well for their 2-1 win and didn’t look like a side two divisions below us.
That’s the road to Wembley over for another season – time to trot out the ‘concentrate on the league’ line!