Caretaker boss John Dreyer spoke to the media after his side defeated table-toppers Bournemouth at Deepdale and said he really enjoyed the experience.
The 49-year-old led the side to a convincing 2-0 victory over Eddie Howe’s Cherries in front of a vociferous North End crowd and was left delighted at the performance he got from the team.
“I really enjoyed it,” he said. “It was a terrific day all things considered. It was a top drawer performance today.
“I asked them to play with a bit more freedom. I wanted them to play football, but the surface is tricky. I, and they, had to accept that there was going to be mistakes occasionally and there was, but I didn’t want that to worry them.
“We were quite disciplined with our shape. Bournemouth are a terrific team and play with a lot of rotation and a lot of movement off the ball and we didn’t want that to give us a problem, so we stayed very disciplined within our shape and there was always plenty of players backing each other up, which was important.
“We won plenty of second balls, there were people going to ground and there was always a white shirt on the next ball. That was the plan and we executed it well and a good platform for us to play our football from.
“I felt very comfortable and I enjoyed it. The players told me they enjoyed it today and I was grateful for what they gave me.”
Those players gave their all for the interim manager and some of them even went above and beyond the call of duty, as John explained: “John Welsh’s wife went into labour this morning. I got a phonecall from him and as soon as his name came up I went into an absolute panic, because I thought ‘what am I going to do without him’.
“He said ‘I want to play for you’ and that was quite humbling. When a player says he wants to do it for me and there wasn’t only him; Stuart Beavon and Jack King got off the treatment table, so that gave me a lot of encouragement.
“Everybody played their part and if the team is going to go forward, they all need to play their part and play well. They need to be a team and not individuals; they have to do it as a team, it’s the only way forward.
“I wanted a certain amount of balance. There might have been a few eyebrows raised when I picked Will Hayhurst, but he put an absolute shift in. I didn’t just toss a coin; they had attributes in the team we had to deal with. I picked a team that was going to pass the ball and be comfortable in possession and makes things happen with the ball, exploiting space.”
Another player who gave his heart and soul was Keith Keane, who somehow got through 90 minutes of action in his first start since November.
“I asked him and he said ‘I’ll probably give you 60 minutes’ and I said I’d take that and he managed 90 and he didn’t just manage it, he was good for 90 minutes and he was a catalyst for some really terrific play.”
The other team player to be instrumental, according to John, was the 12th man: “I said earlier in the week, what did I expect from the fans, and I asked for them to give us some noise and they did exactly that and I was surprised exactly how much noise they made.
“It was a terrific atmosphere and the players fed off that. It’s a two-way thing and the fans needed something to cheer and I got that message across to the players and the fans soon saw our intentions and responded magnificently.
“I think it was the tonic we needed, particularly in the last 15 minutes when the lads started to get a little bit tired, the crowd got us over the line.”