North End boss Neil has a winning vision
Preston boss Alex Neil says he has adapted his approach to management since entering the profession in order to be as successful as possible.
In his early days doing the job, Neil saw his big strength as developing players.
And while he is still a big believer in that side of the game, building a winning team and delivering success is his priority.
Having won promotions at Hamilton and Norwich, Neil would dearly love to do so with North End.
The Scot guided PNE to a seventh-place finish in the campaign recently ended and the natural progression is to be in the promotion shake-up next time around.
“Although part of my job is developing footballers, the main part of it is to create a winning team,” Neil told the Post. “That is a delicate balance to strike and you have to get it right.
“When I started out in the Hamilton job, I was more of a developer of players as much as a manager for building strong teams.
“I have now moved towards the ‘team comes first’ type of thing.
“It still means I can work with players and help them develop but it must be done within a framework of getting good results.
“When you look at our squad, there are players who have come on a great deal.
“Look at Alan Browne, look at Ben Davies and Josh Earl.
“Ben Pearson had his best season with us.
“Before I came in they weren’t players who I knew too much about but it has been great to work with them and help them develop.
“At the same time, the team pushed on and improved both its league position and its points tally.
“It’s that balance which you have to get right and I think we have.”
The players referenced by Neil as examples of how well they have developed, all took big strides this season.
Browne was voted by both fans and players as player of the year, with Pearson such a key figure in midfield.
Davies became a trusted regular at centre-back after coming back from a series of loan spells.
As for Earl, the teenager was thrust into the side for his league debut last August and now has 20 first-team games under his belt.
Tom Barkhuizen, Darnell Fisher and Sean Maguire were part of the younger core of the squad who also impressed.
Meanwhile, current North End season ticket holders have until the close of business on June 9 to reserve their usual seat – after that date seats will be released for general sale.
Season ticket booklets are being replaced by cards this summer, with electronic entry being installed at Deepdale.