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First Team News

Alex Neil Looking For The Perfect Start

3 August 2018

Preston North End manager Alex Neil is looking for his side to get off to the best possible start when they host Queens Park Rangers in their Championship opener on Saturday afternoon.

The PNE boss spoke to iFollow PNE after his final training session before the big kick-off and admitted that up and down the country, every team will be in the same boat before it all gets underway.

Speaking to the club’s online TV channel he said: “The start of the season is always strange, because every team has hopes and expectations and dreams about what they can potentially do.

“The one thing that is important for everybody, is that you try and get to as positive start as you can. You don’t want to start in a negative way, because then momentum is against you and you need to turn it around and pick points up as you go.

“Last year was a perfect start for us and I think that really set us up for the season that we went on and continued to have.”

Twelve months on from his first competitive game as PNE manager, the gaffer feels his team have made great strides forward and is looking for them to push on again in 2018/19.

“I didn’t have a lot of expectations when I came in [last year] because I didn’t know what I was walking into in certain aspects, but I was pleasantly surprised with the quality we had, the work ethic and the way they took on board information,” he continued.

“I would like to think now that we are starting from a better point than we were then and that should bode well in our favour.

“However, we have had a couple of injuries that won’t help our preparations, but we have more than enough quality in the squad. I believe we are a better squad now to cope with that.”

The opponents for the first league game of the new campaign have had a change of manager in the summer, but the North End boss feels there will be no real surprises from any team in the Sky Bet Championship.

“I have seen Steve McClaren’s teams for years and I have seen all of QPR’s games in pre-season. They have different players they can dot in and dot out, as have we, which slightly changes the way you play, but I don’t think any side is going to be surprised by anyone else.

“We know how they go about their work and vice versa and both sides will think they know how to deal with it, but it is just 11 v 11 on the day.

“It is how good in your shape and fluid you are when looking to break the opposition down and how well you can do to get the ball back when you haven’t got it, whether that is pressing the ball or lying deeper and waiting and setting traps.

“The one thing is for certain, the team who is going to go on and win the game will need seven or eight of their players to play well.”

And that added extra that could lead to three points can come from the terraces, with the manager hopeful of a vocal backing from the Deepdale faithful: “I was in the stadium on Thursday and it probably looked as good as I have ever seen it. That shows the progress we are making on and off the pitch at the moment.

“We are making good strides forward as a club and that is something we want to keep trying to keep that momentum going and see if we can start off with a win.

“Every team and every club’s supporters want their team to be better and want them to achieve better things. Equally, you can never achieve things just via the players, the fans have an equal role to play as far as I am concerned.

“They have to show the support the lads need, try and back them as much as they possibly can, because it does make a big difference. If you are not having a good game or you need to rally and get another goal, the fans can pick up the players at times.

“That atmosphere and support that they can show, can give them that extra ten per cent at times,” he added.


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