Preston North End manager Alex Neil has had the opportunity to see a good number of Wigan Athletic games and he has been impressed with what he has seen.
Speaking to iFollow PNE ahead of his side making the short trip down the M6 to face off against Paul Cook’s side, the Lilywhites boss feels they are in a false position for the performances they have put in.
“I have watched quite a bit of Wigan and they are a lot better than their position suggests,” the Scot said.
“They have lost 27 points from winning positions – which is, I think, the most in the league – and they have some good players and they are a tough team to beat.
“I have been to a few of their games and I have never come away thinking they have deservedly a game. It is going to be a tough match for us.
“The fact they have won the last two, gives them the incentive to go and try and build on that.
“At home they are probably better than they are away – something like 66 per cent of their points have come at home, so it will be a tough match.
“Throw into the mix the fact that it is a local derby, it will be a game where both teams desperately need the points, but we go there with confidence, we have got good results against them in the past and we are more than capable of winning the game.”
The game is another in front of the TV cameras for North End, their fifth in the space of eight weeks and performances in front of the Sky men have been positive and Alex feels his side can again embrace the extra spotlight.
“They should see it as an opportunity to show a wider audience what they are about,” he continued.
“It isn’t too much different to any other game we play in and they should want to do that every game, but players are not silly.
“They know the Sky cameras are there and they want to perform as well as they can, to show what they can do and it is a great setting for them.
“Hopefully we can turn up as well as we have done [when we have played on Sky this season]. We have done well in the Sky games this year and hopefully this can be another one.”
In his pre-match press conference the manager was asked about his success in his Norwich City days and the belief that was intrinsic in their success, but he says it is not just about believing in succeeding.
“Belief is one thing – because you can believe – but you also have to have an unwavering determination to then carry out those beliefs; there is no point in believing and then doing nothing about it.
“Belief is really important, as long as you couple it up with determination and hunger. They are equally, if not more important. That is what drives and generates that belief and starts that momentum.
“It is trying to generate a hunger for success, because to be successful, you have to be prepared to do things that other people are not prepared to do. You need to work harder than other people are prepared to work and you need to be dedicated to your craft and if you are not, you are going to come up short.
“That is something we work hard on; on the mentality and putting the demands on people and sometimes it might be wearing, sometimes it might be frustrating, but once it is all said and done and you get to that end point and it is worth it and that’s what we are trying to push for.”
The Saturday lunchtime fixture is the final derby of the season and, as he has said many times before, the PNE manager loves to embrace the extra passion of these games.
“I enjoy these games and, to be fair, they have been very kind to me in all the clubs that I have had.
“I have had a really good record in terms of derbies and in those games you have to get a balance right in terms of determination and focus and hopefully we can go and do as well as we can, because this is a really important game for both teams,” he added.