Manager Simon Grayson and the PNE fans all want Michael Jackson to succeed in management… just not on Monday afternoon.
The former Lilywhites stalwart and former skipper for Simon Grayson’s promotion winning team up the Fylde coast, brings a team to Deepdale for the first time as manager and whilst he is assured of a good reaction from the crowd, he won’t get an easy ride come 3pm.
“Jacko was a fans’ favourite here and he came to Blackpool as my captain and was captain when we got promoted at Wembley against Yeovil,” the gaffer told PNE Player. “He was a fantastic servant for me and I was delighted that he has been given the opportunity to be a manager, because he’s always had those credentials; a student of the game, always wanting to learn.
“It can’t be easy for him now and we could do him some real harm on Monday, but there’s no sentiment in football and after Monday we’ll wish him well for his last two games.”
North End look to return to winning ways after the disappointment of Gentry Day at Brentford, but the manager expects a big reaction from his players.
“We want to get back to winning ways after a disappointing performance,” he continued. “We had too many players not turn up, but ultimately we still only lost to a very dubious penalty and if we had played at the level we are capable of doing, then we could quite easily have won the game, so that was the main frustration from the game.
“The players are playing for their shirt now.
“There is a massive incentive for anyone who comes into the team. Whoever starts on Monday has the chance to keep the shirt right the way through to the semi-finals and hopefully a Wembley final.
“There’s motivation for the players – nothing changes.
“The team haven’t suffered too many disappointments this season, but when they have, they have got together and gone again and I saw at stat when I was doing FL72 that we haven’t been out of the top six all season and that shows the consistency of the players and their desire and willingness to do it.
“These last three games are not easy games and it can help and benefit us that there is something to play for, for both teams - these games can’t and won’t end up as nothing to play for.”
And that squad and selection dilemma will be boosted by the return of the Club captain and potentially other players too: “Welshy is back from suspension and hopefully one or two of the other lads who have been injured will be closer to being involved.
“Everyone is playing for the shirt and when and if you get it, it is your chance to keep it.
“We have got three vital games coming up now, going into those Play-Off games and there’s motivation for the players to keep their shirts for those big games,” he added.