Dave Seddon's Preston North End Press View: Paul Gallagher is a leader
Preston have come out of the blocks at the speed of Usain Bolt when it comes to doing early business in the January transfer window.
But let’s flip the calendar back a few months to last summer to kick this week’s column off.
In among June, and July’s wheeling and dealing, would I be alone in thinking that the best piece of business done was to get Paul Gallagher to sign a new contract?
In what he has given to the side this season, I’m sure there are plenty who think along the same lines.
Some of the players signed in the summer are starting to find their feet, Jordan Storey especially, and in recent games Ryan Ledson too.
But another year on the clock for Gallagher is looking better business by the week.
At the end of last season it looked like the midfielder would be leaving Deepdale after a stay which started with a loan spell at the end of October 2013.
He decided to stop and is the senior figure in among a squad where many are under the age of 26.
To have someone of that experience is invaluable, so too Tom Clarke and Paul Huntington.
The buying model at PNE is lads in their early to mid-20s but there must always be a place for experience to guide them along the way.
A few times in interviews this season, some of the younger players have spoken of Gallagher passing on a few words of advice and wisdom.
A retrospective red card aside in the early weeks of the season, Gallagher has led by example.
None more so than over the last couple of months when player numbers have dwindled due to an injury list which has bitten deep. At 34, Gallagher has been in the starting XI for 10 matches in a row.
Just this week, Alex Neil referenced him as being the picture of professionalism.
Of those 10 games he has started, Gallagher finished seven of them.
He got a breather in the later stages of the other three but against Aston Villa, it was barely for a minute or two.
The nice part of him being subbed in the Villa game was Ethan Walker coming on to replace him.
At 16, Walker became the youngest player to play for PNE in a league fixure.
As the pair shook hands as they prepared to change places, Gallagher was passing on his best wishes and advice to the local teenager.
The last time Gallagher started on the bench was the game he will probably be best remembered for.
It was the colourful day in Suffolk when he came off the bench to score with his first touch and, two minutes later, ended up pulling on the keeper’s jersey and gloves.
He kept a clean sheet in his 20 minutes between the sticks, some achievement for a player who last went in nets when he was a teenager.
Whether Gallagher gets a rest for Doncaster’s visit in the FA Cup to freshen him up for the Championship games ahead, remains to be seen.
The fact that is a course of action for Neil to consider, shows how important the midfielder is.
That said, it might be all hands on deck on Sunday for the cup clash.
I wrote in this column a few weeks ago how a run in the competition would be beneficial.
With finances kept under a close control at Deepdale, the £135,000 prize money for third-round winners is a tidy amount.
Add that to the £50,000 received for the tie being chosen for live overseas broadcast, it could quite a profitable occasion. Preston’s up-and-down form of late would suggest they are unlikely to bother either end of the table.
For me, they have too much about them to get dragged into a relegation scrap but have too much ground to cover to repeat last season’s play-off push.
Hence keeping an interest in the FA Cup would keep the fires burning.
Results in the league over Christmas and New Year set North End back.
Including the clash with Sheffield Wednesday, it was one point from four games.
They probably deserved more – the performance against Villa was worthy of a win while they should have put Rotherham out of sight after half an hour.
But they didn’t, a point it was from a possible 12.
There is the opportunity to get back on track over the coming weeks – Neil’s squad replenished by signings and a shortening queue for the treatment room – together with a cup run.
In terms of the January window, North End have not let the grass grow under their feet in terms of doing early business.
There seems to two schools of thought when it comes to January – either do early business or leave it to the last minute.
In between, little seems to get done.
Preston needed to move quickly in order to get the numbers up and prevent any drawn-out chase for a target.
The pattern has generally been to buy early in recent windows.
This time last year, Louis Moult and Billy Bodin were on board inside the first week of January.
In the summer, Ledson, Storey, Andrew Hughes, Graham Burke and Michael Crowe were at Deepdale by the middle of June. This week, the chimes of Big Ben had hardly finished before the ink was dry on Josh Ginnelly’s move from Walsall.
Jayden Stockley and Brad Potts arrived a few hours apart on Thursday.
Ginnelly and Stockley are new to the Championship, Potts isn’t.
While it is desirable that all hit the ground running, I hope the North End faithful afford them something of a settling-in period.
We have seen over the last two or three seasons that new arrivals aren’t always instant hits.
But give them a bit of time and they do generally make an impact.
There have some hits, some misses.
Ben Pearson and Callum Robinson were two to take time to show their worth, while until his injury, Moult was beginning to show what he was about.