Tough task for Moyes’ successors at PNE

Deepdale success: David Moyes has gone on to win great acclaim as Everton boss
Deepdale success: David Moyes has gone on to win great acclaim as Everton boss
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David Moyes is arguably Preston’s most successful manager in recent years.

He is one of only five bosses to have guided North End to a promotion in the last four decades – Alan Ball Snr, Nobby Stiles, John McGrath and Gary Peters the others.

Since departing to Everton almost 11 years ago, the Scotsman has proved a tough act to follow at Deepdale.

Seven men have occupied the PNE manager’s office on a full-time basis since.

Only Billy Davies to date has come close to matching the achievements of his fellow Scot on the pitch.

Davies twice guided North End to the Championship play-offs in a little under two seasons in charge.

In 2005, they were within 90 minutes of the Premier League after reaching the play-off final against West Ham at the Millennium Stadium.

But it was the Hammers who booked their place in the top flight with a 1-0 victory.

The following campaign, Davies guided the Lilywhites to the semi-final stage. But after a first-leg 1-1 draw at Elland Road, a strange night ensued in the return game at Deepdale. The floodlights went out, the team selection was puzzling and North End were beaten 2-0.

Davies was head-hunted the following month by Derby County.

He left behind at Deepdale a 44.5% win ratio in all competitions.

It is the best record there has been since Moyes went in March 2002, the Everton boss’s win ratio in four years in charge of Preston being 48.2%.

Craig Brown filled the hotseat in between Moyes and Davies, with Davies having served as the former Scotland coach’s No.2.

PNE won 36 games under Brown, the genial Scot having a win ratio of 33.9% which has been bettered by only by Davies, Paul Simpson and Alan Irvine since.

After Derby ram-raided Deepdale for Davies, in came Simpson to take charge in June 2006.

Recruited from Carlisle, he had a strong start to his time as North End boss, guiding them to the Championship summit.

But they were to fall away and ended up just outside the play-off places at the end of Simpson’s first season.

Simpson lasted until part-way through November of his second term, before a 3-0 defeat at Hull City signalled the end of his tenure.

He posted a 40.2% win ratio during 17 months in charge.

PNE looked to Everton for Simpson’s successor, handing Moyes’ Goodison Park No.2 Irvine his first manager’s post.

The Scot guided North End to safety in the 2007/08, relegation having been very much on the cards with the club sitting bottom of the Championship at the start of 2008.

The following season, PNE squeezed into the play-offs on a dramatic last day, pipping Cardiff for sixth spot on goals scored.

But the semi-final saw them lose out to Sheffield United 2-1 on aggregate.

Irvine’s sacking in December 2009 was a shock, to say the least.

His win ratio was 40.9% in his 110 games in charge, and it has been an unstable Deepdale hotseat ever since.

Darren Ferguson took over from Irvine, Fergie Jnr out of work at the time having left Peterborough.

But in a little under a year in charge, Sir Alex’s lad managed only 13 victories at the helm – a win ratio of only 26.5%.

His sacking came a year to the day from Irvine being dismissed.

In came Phil Brown who ultimately could not save North End from relegation to League One.

Like Ferguson, he did not complete a year in charge, his 51 games in the Preston dugout producing a win ratio of 29.4%.

Brown’s successor Graham Westley is approaching 13 months in the job.

There has been a huge turnover of the squad in that time, starting last January and continuing ever since.

Westley’s win ratio currently stands at 26.6%, with North End having had 16 outright victories under him.

The victories have dried up of late, with just one league win in the last 12 – the New Year’s Day success at lowly Hartlepool.

That run has seen the daggers out for the 44-year-old, with some fearsome stick dished out by PNE supporters in his direction.

Financial budget plays a big part in football and can dictate the success or otherwise of managers.

It is no secret that the purse strings have been tightened in recent seasons, Trevor Hemmings’ buy-out in 2010 bringing with it austerity.

You can point to Moyes being well backed with the club record signing of David Healy for £1.5m.

But at the same time he got Graham Alexander for a bargain £50,000, while Jon Macken, Lee Ashcroft and Michael Appleton were big-money sales during his tenure.

Davies enjoyed the transfer market, so too Craig Brown, who signed Ricardo Fuller, Brian O’Neil, Claude Davis and Eddie Lewis.

The purse strings were loosened for Irvine when he took over.

These days it is more about wages and complying with the financial fair play rules.