Preston North End manager Alex Neil is hoping that Tuesday’s excellent performance and win over AFC Bournemouth is something his side can build on.
Speaking to iFollow PNE ahead of a Deepdale double-header, against Wycombe Wanderers and Middlesbrough, the Lilywhites gaffer hopes the display will give his side a lift.
“Psychologically, football is bizarre isn’t it?” He said. “When things are not going your way, all of a sudden everyone is a little bit sore and tired and then when everything is going well, you manage to find that extra couple of per cent.
“That is the same with any team. Confidence plays a huge part in that. The manner of our win the other night will breathe a lot of confidence into the players; we played particularly well, but we know we obviously have to resolve our home form and we have some fixtures coming that, that albeit are extremely difficult, certainly if you can go to Bournemouth or Brentford and win, there’s no reason we can’t beat anybody in the league at home. I’m just hoping we can replicate those performances at home.
“It is just the manner in which it has happened for us – in that our home form has been as poor as it has been and our away form is the best in the country.
“It is bizarre in the way it has panned out. I think that the performance against Blackburn didn’t go a long way to feeling good about ourselves, because it is a derby, but at some point, Blackburn were likely to win one game. They hadn’t beaten us in something like five years, but it was the manner in which it happened.
“It all changed on the sending-off, albeit to that point we hadn’t played well, but the manner of our victory at Bournemouth, I hope, goes a long way to repair some of that damage.
“Not only that, but the confidence of the players, in terms of how good we can be. It is well documented that we want a fully fit squad and when we can get all our players who have proven what they can do back, then we will start to get some semblance of continuity about how we want to play and the personnel.”
The next test is Gareth Ainsworth’s Chairboys, who did a superb job in winning the Play-Offs in the summer and have grown into their new surroundings, having only lost one in seven before Wednesday’s tight loss to Stoke City.
Alex believes it is a game the Wanderers boss will be looking forward to, due to his strong affiliation with Deepdale and is aware of the challenge they will pose: “I watched their game against Stoke and there wasn’t a lot in the match. They have been in a good run of form of late.
“They came up to the division and found it difficult, as you do, because I think you have to find your bearings at this level, but, to be fair to them, they have dug in, made themselves hard to beat and have picked up some good results along the way.
“This will be a difficult game for very different reasons as it was against Bournemouth, but I am sure that Gareth, because of his associations with the club, will have look at this fixture in particular and been looking forward to it.”
The game is likely to be different in terms of the test that is poses to the one faced at the Vitality Stadium on Tuesday, but the gaffer says there is nothing new in that.
“That is the Championship!” He continued. “You go one week to a team that pass the ball to death, to the following week playing against a team that is very direct and make no apologies for their style – which they shouldn’t, because their job is to win as many games as they can and they have to do it in a manner which they deem gives them the best opportunity.
“What they have done of late is adapted very well to the level. They have become extremely hard to beat; they don’t concede a lot of goals at the moment and it is going to be a very tough, physical match and I am sure that Wycombe, with the results they have had recently, will fancy their chances."
One other familiar face in the Wycombe travelling group will be Irish winger Daryl Horgan and the PNE boss expects him to be one of the main threats in the visitors’ set up.
“Daryl and [Fred] Onyedinma have been their two creative forces, in terms of trying to supply goalscoring opportunities.
“And, as we know, Daryl is going to work extremely hard, get into good spaces, will be busy and he will try and get on the ball and make things happen for them.
“They too in particular, when they have the ball, are threats and equally we have to cope with [Joe] Jacobson’s deliveries, as they are very good.”
There’s plenty more from the manager in the free to watch iFollow PNE interview with the manager, by clicking on the link at the top of the page, as he discusses the latest news on Patrick Bauer and the return of supporters.
You can watch this weekend’s game live on iFollow PNE, with coverage starting shortly after 2.30pm, with Jonathan Breeze and Paul McKenna bringing you all the action from Deepdale – and you can sign up now for a £10 match pass by clicking here.