Preston North End manager Alex Neil says a similar performance and result to his side’s last visit to Sheffield United would be just the tonic required.
The Lilywhites’ last away win in the league came in the red and white half of the steel city, when Alan Browne’s goal kept alive their Play-Off hopes going into the final round of Championship matches back in April.
That day the team ground out the result and the 1-0 scoreline, despite not necessarily having one of their most fluent performances of the season and the gaffer, speaking to iFollow PNE to look ahead to the weekend’s game, feels that the same will be needed this time around.
“Last year in a lot of the games that we won, we found a way,” said Alex. “That has been the biggest difference [this season]. Don’t get me wrong, we put in a lot of good performances during the season, but we didn’t finish seventh because we played good football every week.
“We were doing the basic things very well and that game was one of those matches.
“I remember we defended our box really well, because we got put under a lot of pressure, particularly second half, and we managed to nick a goal on the break, so a similar type of result would do us a world of good.”
The PNE boss took the chance to see the Blades in the flesh on Wednesday night, as he headed across the Pennines for their clash with Birmingham City. Chris Wilder made five changes to his starting line-up for the game and could well do the same again at the weekend.
“They have got a good squad and they have added to that in the summer,” continued the North End chief. “[David] McGoldrick, [Conor] Washington, Marvin Johnson and [Oliver] Norwood have come into the squad, plus [Dean] Henderson, the goalkeeper, so they have added bits and pieces that can help them. They have the young boy Ben Woodburn as well, who came on last night.
“The 3-5-2 system is still the way that they work and they are well-experienced in terms of working it and it is a difficult system for anybody in the league to cope with. People have done different things to deal with it and we will have to come up with how we think is best to handle it.
“A lot of the players who came in on Wednesday night were not necessarily the ones who have been playing regularly. Enda Stevens dropped out, John Fleck came back in after missing a couple and Conor Washington started, so they made a few changes and they might resort back to those who have been playing more frequently.”
Alan Browne was available for selection again for Tuesday night’s first trip to Yorkshire of the week and the manager feels that the match-winner in the aforementioned last clash between the sides can play a major role in getting the team back to winning ways.
“I have made no secret of the fact that I feel Alan’s best position for us is as a No.10 – a running ten who can be really effective – his stats suggest that as well.
“When he drops back, we lose a lot of what Alan is good at, which has a knock-on effect on the rest of the team, but the simple fact is we have to pick the lads that are available and fit them into the best system.
“I still expect us to have a level of performance that can compete.
“He is part of the trigger at the top end of the pitch to set off the press and he is also the one to make runs from the midfield to get up and support, so it is quite significant, the role that he plays.
“We have managed to get him in there on a couple of occasions this year and on those couple of occasions they have arguably been our best performances and that is not any coincidence, but we have to make sure we have other players who are playing as well as they can in other positions as well,” he added.
For more from the manager just click on the video link at the top of the page, where you can watch him look ahead to the fixture. Remember, all our iFollow PNE videos are available without the need for subscription.