Preston North End manager Alex Neil took the opportunity of playing on Wednesday night to spend his Tuesday watching this weekend’s opponents.
The gaffer headed to the north east for Rotherham United’s impressive point at the then league-leaders Middlesbrough.
Millers boss Paul Warne then did the same, heading to Deepdale with his backroom staff, Richie Barker and Matt Hamshaw, to take in the Lilywhites’ clash with Brentford on Wednesday night.
So what did the PNE boss learn from his own scouting mission? “Everybody now gets out and sees the opposition as much as possible; it gives you a clear idea and indication of how they are going to play,” he told iFollow PNE.
“I think Rotherham will be fairly happy with how they have started the season. They have just come back up into the league, they have been very competitive in each game they have played and the only game they really had problems was away at Brentford, but that can happen, as it is a difficult place to go. Other than that, they will be happy and they certainly should have been happy with their performance at Middlesbrough.
“I thought they played well; I thought they were hard to break down and hard to beat and I thought the lads worked really hard for each other and they carried an attacking threat going the other way, so this is going to be a tough game.
“They have some good experience and you need that, particularly when you are in the bottom half of the table and you need to dig out results and get yourself moving, particularly in that first year back up when it is crucial for them that they are fighting for every single point they can get.
“I think Paul [Warne] and Richie [Barker] have done a really good job there. They got the promotion last year, which is hard to achieve at any level, and then they have made a relatively solid start to their campaign this year, so it will be a tough match and a different type of test for us. It is a test where hopefully we can rise to the challenge and try and keep this run going.”
The two home games this week could be contrasting affairs in terms of the style of game played and the manager knows his side need to adapt to each challenge put in front of them.
“Brentford are a particular type of team, who play some very expansive football, make the pitch really big and that allowed us to get on the front foot and press and hunt them,” he continued.
“I think Rotherham will be more direct. They will get in your faces, they get against you, they will put the ball in behind, they will turn you, they will put balls in the box and make you defend, so it is going to equally a tough a match as Brentford was, but for different reasons.
“I think they have scored eight of their ten goals from set plays – and that means corner, wide free kicks, throw ins and penalties – because when they put the ball forward they keep it alive. They made sure in second and third phase, that the ball is coming back in – they make you defend and we have to make sure that defensively we are guarding and covering the box really well and hopefully we can try and win the first balls and if not we need to win those second balls.
“Every game at this level is really tough. I think this is probably the hardest I can remember the Championship in the three or four years I have been in it and that is to pick up any points. Even in games we have played well, we have not necessarily won them, but to win any game we have had to play very well and I don’t think this will be any different.”
This change could mean it comes down to horses for courses team selection, which Alex explains means that the consistency of selection that has always been a staple of success in the past, in less appropriate this year, where there is such a contrast in what the team could come up against from week to week.
“There are a few factors you need to consider.
“You have to think about what you are doing well, as you don’t want to jeopardise that.
“You have to pay reference to the opposition and what they are good at and make sure you try and counter that and the quick turnaround with the Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday turnaround has to be thought about, because it is that third game that really takes its toll on the body.
“We will take all those factors into account, see how the lads are feeling and then take a decision from there,” he added.