‘The bigger the army, the stronger the force’ was the message from manager Graham Westley ahead of North End’s trip to Birkenhead to face league leaders Tranmere Rovers on Saturday.
The North End boss spoke at his pre-match press conference for the game and said the thought of another big away following behind the Lilywhites was giving him and the players an added incentive, considering the result the last time 2,000-plus Lilywhites fans travelled with the team.
“Last season it was a difficult four or five months,” he said. “We got used to watching lacklustre football, performances that didn’t turn into results and it was a really difficult time and the night we visited Tranmere was another ordeal.
“We went ahead and conceded the two goals to lose the game and it was another frustrating and disappointing evening.
“We took a big fan base with us and that fan base has stuck with us through the thin times and we’ve had a couple of better evenings away from home, at Doncaster and Scunthorpe, and we gave them a decent day out at Bury.
“I am sure they’ll be there in their number at the weekend and after Oldham we all know that we owe them one.
“The more fans you have with you, there is more of the sense you are taking an army to town and the bigger your army, the stronger your force, so we go there buoyed by the win the other night, but also buoyed by what we’ve done this season so far.
“The lads are under no illusions that I am pleased with the efforts they have put in. I don’t think it’s an easy task they’ve had and they’ve acquitted themselves well and are getting stronger.
“I thought last week they were terrific against Sheffield United, albeit the product wasn’t quite there. The way the season is evolving is pretty much as I hoped it would. It is obviously important that we get stronger and more consistent and find the winning level on a more regular basis, but if you get a 50 per cent win record in your opening period as a base in the early stage of the season and you build on it, you generally put yourself up there.”
North End face up against the side who currently sit on top of the pile and the manager says they deserve their place as the division’s target after an excellent start to the campaign.
“The league table never lies,” he continued. “You also sit where you deserve to be. They went 12 unbeaten and that is a good start. They got out of the traps brilliantly well, they have set the pace very well.
“I’d sooner be top than eighth, but you don’t get the prizes in October, you get them in May and it is how you build your season that counts.
“People have been raising the issue all week with me about whether I take it personally that their manager was disrespectful and offensive towards us and me when he was commentating on the TV the other week, but I could completely understand where he was coming from. He’s had a great start, he is manager of the month, flying high at the top of the league; any manager could get tempted to say a little bit more than he wanted to say – anyone would enjoy being Mourinho for the day, wouldn’t they?!” Added the PNE chief.
Remember, tickets are on sale until 11.30am on Saturday morning, subject to availability from North End's 2,000 allocation - get yours until 5pm Thursday, from 9am until 6pm Friday or again from 9am Saturday morning at the ticket and retail store at Deepdale or over the phone on 0844 856 1966.