Manager Graham Westley looks forward to the season opener against Huddersfield Town and discusses the buzz that he is feeling.
The North End boss spoke to the official website after putting his side through their paces in front of 1,500 fans at Deepdale for the Club’s open training day and admitted that he could see the enjoyment of both the fans and his new squad coming together.
“You could see glancing around the pitch that the fans were loving being amongst the players and the players were loving being amongst the fans,” he told PNE.Com.
“One of the directors said to me that he felt quite emotional, seeing it all going on, watching the togetherness of the Club and I think any successful club is a together club and events like the open day are all part of building that.”
With the season less than 48 hours away the PNE chief admitted his delight that competitive action was finally approaching: “It’s great when you get to the end of pre-season. I don’t think anybody in football likes pre-season. It’s a difficult time where the games mean everything in terms of results, but they mean nothing in terms of your season.
“We’ve obviously had a lot to build in pre-season. We are nowhere near the level we will get to yet, but are a long way down the road in terms of the togetherness and the understanding of the way we are going to play football and we’ve put some decent performances together in pre-season.
“There are some encouraging signs. There’s a lot of work to do, but the lads are ready to go. They certainly feel like a team and looking at them today they feel a part of Preston North End.”
Huddersfield Town arrive at Deepdale on a high, their last competitive game being the penalty victory over Sheffield United in the 2012 Play-Off Final, a success the manager congratulated.
“Monday we don’t expect to be an easy game. They were a promotion last time out and credit to them all there for doing that.
“They came here and got beat last season when we weren’t playing so well, but it’s a new season and they will want to start well, as will we, but as Bill Shankly said ‘you are neither better or lesser of a team beforehand, it’s what you do in the 90 minutes that makes the difference’.
“Competitive action is always what players want and the moment that you get that jersey on and you play for the first time is always a great moment for you. I’ve always been fortunate on debuts in my playing career where I have managed to score a lot of goals on my debuts, so I’ve enjoyed and relished them and I am sure the boys will too.”
The game will also see John Mousinho pull the armband on for the first time as official Club captain, an appointment that Westley feels will benefit the Club: “He’s a tremendous individual as a person. His leadership skills shine out and he leads not only with his voice and his ability to communicate but also by his example on the pitch.
“He’s a tremendous athlete, he’s developed a real will to win and I’m sure he’ll spread that amongst the squad.
“He’s a popular lad and he know me as well and I think that is important; someone who understands me and can help other people in the squad to know where I’m coming from and the agenda I’m going to be setting.”
And as the countdown well and truly starts the excitement is building for the manager: “There is that tingle. A little bit of buzz. It’s all very well waiting for pre-season games but the real thing has something extra about it. Everyone in football loves the start of the season, fans, players, managers, directors, chairman… and I’m no different.
“It will be terrific [starting on a Monday night]. One of my memorable experiences of last season was that Tuesday night against Hartlepool, when I started to really appreciate what this Club is all about. Fourteen thousand people turned up on a cold Tuesday night to watch 14th placed Preston play Hartlepool; it was incredible.
“I will never forget the noise when Mayor put the ball in the back of the net for the winner, it sent a tingle down my spine. It was incredible. It taught me so much about what Preston is all about.”