Ahead of Tuesday night’s trip to Oakwell, we caught up with a popular former PNE captain, who joined the Lilywhites from Barnsley.
Former promotion-winning skipper Ian Bryson only spent four months with the Reds and says that when he was signed by PNE, it was in a position he is unfamiliarly known as, a striker!
“Not being able to go to games at the moment, you always look out for your ex-teams you used to play for, Barnsley being one of them,” he told iFollow PNE.
“I had four months there. Sheffield United more or less said I wouldn’t be involved regularly and Viv Anderson and Danny Wilson were managers at Barnsley at the time and they gave me an opportunity to go there.
“It didn’t quite work out for me there. I was playing centre forward in those days at Sheffield United, but that wasn’t really my position and they said I didn’t score enough goals – which was fair enough – and they wanted to bring Andy Payton back from Celtic and Preston, through Gary Peters and John Beck, contacted me and asked if I was interested in coming to Preston.
“Preston were doing well then at the top of the third division. It was a bigger drop than I expected, but once I had spoken to them, I had no hesitation in coming over.
“I predominantly played my whole career at Sheffield United as a left-winger, but they had one or two injuries and I played up front with Brian Deane and we hit it off and I scored quite a few goals up there, but that wasn’t my natural position.
“So, Preston did sign me as a centre forward and when I joined Tony Ellis was still here and I played with him a few times, but eventually I moved my way out to the left wing and then into the central midfield positions and I developed as a better footballer after I came to Preston, because I knew the game better and I understood certain positions and I used my experience.”
Oakwell has had its developments since the early 1990s, when ‘Brys’ pulled on the red shirt of the Tykes, but one stand is still there from his days on that side of the Pennines.
“That stand is still there,” he continued. “We used to get changed in that stand and come out from that side of the pitch where the media is now done from.
“It has massively changed though. They lost their manager at the beginning of the season and the new guy has taken over and they got a fantastic result on Saturday at Sheffield Wednesday.
“They are actually above us now, which considering that had quite a poor start to the season, they have come on well and Tuesday is going to be a tough game for Preston.
“I have watched two or three games recently – Preston went down to Bournemouth and won down there and then Bournemouth went to Barnsley and they looked like world beaters! You question what is happening in football at the moment.
“Barnsley have gone down the younger route and they do look like quality players, but they came up against Bournemouth, who still have Premier League players from last season, and they just had too much experience for them on the day.
“Youthful exuberance does get you a long way at times, but you also need to get the ball down, have that experience, play through your better players and create chances and Bournemouth on the day were outstanding and it was as good a performance as I have seen this season in the Championship.
“But then Barnsley bounced back at the weekend and beat Sheffield Wednesday, where an experienced manager like Tony Pulis has gone in, but is struggling to get results, so it is a massive boost for Barnsley and they will be full of beans when we play them on Tuesday night.”
As we get closer to Christmas the regularity of the games and the intensity continues to build, with a huge run of weekend-midweek-midweek fixtures and the Scot says it will be taking its toll.
“I have always said that players can cope with a lot and I have always thought that playing twice a week, you can cope with that, but now they are playing so many games over a short period of time and they don’t have time to recover and if you are struggling, you don’t get time to work on the training ground.
“Alex may want to try doing something different, but he has no time to work on that, because he can’t get the players on the training ground, so they are having to play recover, go again and players who have little niggles have no time to be ready.
“Teams throughout the Championship, and the Premier League, there are a lot more injuries – soft tissue injuries – that are coming up and we are suffering from that as well.
“We are missing key players and you need to have a good squad. Preston have a decent squad, but you take one or two of the better players out of the team and suddenly you are looking for a formula to try and win football matches against very good Championship sides.
“We have suffered a little with that and you can’t get a settled side because you have to keep rotating to keep the players 100 per cent fit, because they pick up little niggles we don’t all know about and it is difficult to keep yourself motivated.
“Watching football now, without fans, is horrible, but it is what it is, every club is the same and you have to get on with it, but it is tough and you have to get through it, work hard and understand that everything has been affected by what has happened,” he added.
There’s loads more in our extended interview with Ian, including how much he is missing coming to Deepdale, the influence of no fans and much more, just click on the video at the top of the page.
Watch tonight's game live as former North End forward Brett Ormerod joins Guy Clarke to bring full coverage of the Lilywhites’ trip to Oakwell on iFollow PNE – click here now to sign up for a match pass for just £10.