Ahead of the upcoming pre-season schedule for PNE, Alex Neil has been speaking about the importance of the summer schedule and gives his reaction to the release of the Championship fixtures.
North End got off to a great start last season and the gaffer believes that was largely due to the right preparations made during the off-season.
The Lilywhites begin their pre-season fixture list with Bamber Bridge on the 7th July at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium, with tests against Premier League sides West Ham United and Burnley also lined up.
The manager believes that the blend of fixtures last season was important so was keen for a similar set up this season.
Speaking to PNE.Com, he said: “I felt that last season the pre-season schedule was structured really well in terms of the games we had.
“If you look at the start of the season we had, that was, I thought, set up by the pre-season.
“So we wanted to ensure that the games we’ve got this season are quite similar to those ones because I’m a big believer of if it’s not broke don’t fix it.
“The games we’ve organised are great and what it will give us is a good variety of tests before the season starts; and then hopefully we’ll hit the ground running like last year.”
With the regular season fixtures also recently announced, PNE will be opening up the 2018/19 campaign at Deepdale against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday 4th August. North End will play two of the three teams relegated from the Premier League in the opening month and Alex Neil is relishing the challenge they present.
“Timing is important sometimes, the fact that we’ve got a couple of the teams that are coming down right away is a good thing.
“Having come down before from the Premier League, when you come into the Championship you think we’ve got a better side than other teams and sometimes that can come back to haunt you a little bit.
“We started last season with a real difficult start in terms of the fixtures we pulled out initially, we started really well so hopefully it’s the same again this time.”
New to the Championship this season is a Wednesday night fixture for television. PNE have four in the fixture list, two at home and two away – Brentford, Middlesbrough, Norwich and Middlesbrough, respectively. They provide something slightly different in preparations but aren’t much of a concern to the gaffer.
“That’s just logistics, particularly if you’re travelling for away games. One of the first challenges is we’ve got Derby and Norwich, both away from home in quick succession.
“The Championships a long hard season and we’ve been used to quick turnarounds and difficult venues at difficult times but the fact is we’ll prepare as best we can.”