Brewers boss is ready for battle with North End
Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough thinks Preston and Alex Neil have been a good fit as he prepares to welcome them to the Pirelli Stadium.
Clough has been impressed with the manner in which Neil has picked up the baton from Simon Grayson and kept North End competitive in the Championship.
They head to Staffordshire on the back of a four-match unbeaten run, having put four defeats on the bounce behind them.
Casting his eye over PNE, Clough said: “I think it is Alex’s sort of squad.
“We played against him when he was at Norwich, and I think they had different sorts of players at Norwich to what he has at Preston.
“I think it’s more the sort of real, honest players, rather than the flair sort of players.
“First of all, it’s a very good appointment.
“When a team loses their manager, as Preston had done – someone who had been there a few years – it was a very shrewd appointment to bring him in.
“He has carried on the good work. Preston are a very well-run football club.”
Clough feels that Grayson put in solid foundations on which PNE can build with Neil in charge.
Whether that can lead to a promotion push this season, Clough is not so sure, but he doesn’t think they have a need to look over their shoulder.
Said Clough: “They are a good team. Simon Grayson left a very good team and a very good squad, and Alex Neil has come in and taken it on.
“Preston had a great start to the season, then a little bit of a dip but have come back just recently.
“So once again it’s not an ideal time to be playing them in some ways.
“They are a solid, all-round team with some experienced Championship players.
“They are very competitive all over the pitch as well.
“It’s the foundation that Simon Grayson put in over a number of years, where they have this very good Championship squad.
“Whether it is good enough to get in the top six, only in comparison to the other teams, I’m not quite sure.
“But they certainly won’t be in trouble.”
Clough’s men have slipped to the foot of the table of late, having lost three and drawn one of the last four.
Prior to a 1-0 victory over Millwall on November 4, they had collected only one point from six games.
They lost the influential Jackson Irvine to Hull City in August but a busy summer in the transfer market saw them bring in plenty of experience in the shape of Luke Murphy, Stephen Warnock and Jake Buxton.
Lloyd Dyer is their leading scorer with three goals, two of those in the Championship with another in the cup.
Marvin Sordell and Ben Turner have both scored twice in league action.
Clough celebrated two years in charge of Burton this week, having returned for a second spell in December 2015. He previously managed them for more than 10 years in their non-league days.