Preston North End manager Alex Neil believes Lee Bowyer and his Charlton Athletic side deserve a lot of credit after an excellent start to life back in the Championship.
The Lilywhites gaffer was looking ahead to Sunday’s trip to The Valley and admitted he admired what the Addicks has achieved so far in 2019/20.
Speaking to iFollow PNE he said: “Any team coming up, the aspiration is to be competitive and stay in the league and from the results the players have accrued so far, they have done well. They have done it against a lot of the better teams as well; they have had a tough fixture list and come through it admirably.
“They will be delighted with the start they have had. They are extremely hard-working, really well organised, a real threat, whether they have got the ball or don’t have the ball and we are certainly going to have to play very well.
“They drew with Fulham at Fulham, as well as beating Leeds and drawing with West Brom and that is no mean feat to do that. If you do that once you might say ‘that can happen’, but you do it three times against three top teams, they certainly have something about them.
“Their recruitment has been shrewd to say the least. They have accrued a group of hungry young players who want to learn and listen to the coach and they have performed extremely well.
“Against teams like that, all you can do is give them a huge amount of credit and say ‘well done’. However, that will be over once the whistle goes and they will be desperate to win and we will be desperate to win!
“You have to look with admiration at what Charlton have done and also what Lee Bowyer has done as a young coach. I think his first role was last season when he took over, got them straight up and then has started well this season, so all credit to him.”
North End head into the weekend in the top two in the division and have also this week since Welsh winger Billy Bodin sign a new contract, something that had pleased the boss: “It has been a bit of a process,” he continued.
“We wanted Billy to sign and if we can keep him fit, he has qualities in the squad that we don’t have in different positions.
“He is another string to our bow and if we can get him fully fit, he will help us with assists and goals.”
After three tough games last week, the extra day’s recovery is also something Alex has been grateful of for his squad.
“It was a tough week – mentally as much as anything else. We had the disappointment at Reading, then we conceded late against Leeds – which was frustrating – albeit I am not suggesting we should have won the game, a draw was probably the fair result; and then we had the exploits of the first half and the euphoria of the second half at the weekend.
“It has been a week that has basically summed up football. The highs, the lows, going from tragedy to euphoria in the same game.
“That is why we love it so much, because we don’t know what is around the corner and all we can do is prep and plan as well as we can and make sure the lads are mentally and physically in the best shape to give them the best chance to go and do well.”
The match will see more than 1,000 PNE fans head to the capital, which, given the fact it is a 12 noon kick-off on a Sunday, with no trains and the coaches need to depart at 4.30am, is an impressive feat and something the manager and his players appreciate.
“What the club has managed to do – and I say club, because you can put it all on one individual – started before I came here and I’d like to think I have continued it since I came in and improved it, and that is that we have a team to be proud of.
“We have got a team that runs through brick walls for the fans and if I was a Preston North End fan, I would travel far and wide to see this team.
“We are very thankful for the support and we want to try and continue to do well for the supporters,” he added.