Manager Simon Grayson spoke to PNE PlayerHD after the entertaining pre-season draw With Stoke City and was happy with the test provided.
“There were talented players on show and it was played at a good tempo by both teams,” said the gaffer. “From our point of view we were tested at times, but we were organised and disciplined and we will have to be like that again in the Championship this year, like we were last year, but ultimately we have to get the right balance of keeping the ball, getting it forward and we did that today. We worked Jack Butland on a few occasions and overall it was a good work out from many different perspectives.
“We would like to thank Stoke for coming. It was testing for us on hot day against a team with good players in their ranks, some exceptional talents, but we also utilised the players we have who can hurt anybody and I think both parties can be delighted with the game.
“We tried to play good football. We are building up with every game and session that we are involved with, so that everybody is ready once we start the season off in two weeks’ time. We tried different formations, worked on different things we wanted to do with and without the ball and we will continue to do that over the next couple of weeks.”
The team’s defence, in particular, were given the tough task of dealing with the likes of Arnautovic and Bojan in the first half and then Crouch and Diouf in the second and the PNE boss felt this was good preparation.
“What you find with Premier League players is that they are bit quicker and stronger, but they are also a bit cleverer, where they get into little pockets and areas where defenders don’t want to go to and that’s why they are top players,” he continued.
“They ask questions of you, with and without the ball and we will have those same problems throughout the season; so it helps you learn when the right time is to go into certain areas to defend and when to stay as a structured back three, four or five and that’s what was always going to be the case today because of the quality of the opposition.
With two weeks left before the season opener at Reading, Grayson says that the more tactical parts of pre-season work will be stepped up from now on.
“The first couple of weeks we did the physical side and for the last ten days, since we got back from Ireland, we have now started to work more on the tactical side and the components of each unit; what they need to do working together.
“I think you have seen that in the last two games, against Oldham and again today, how it is coming together and now we have two more games to get it right,” he added.
You can watch the full interview, plus hear from home debutant Ben Pringle on PNE PlayerHD now – click here to sign up or sign in now.