Preston North End’s interim head coach Frankie McAvoy has stressed the need to keep looking forward as his team head to Swansea City on Easter Monday.
The Scot’s Lilywhites picked up a point with a late, late equaliser against table-toppers Norwich City at Deepdale on Friday and he now wants to build on that against the high-flying Swans at the Liberty Stadium.
The side faced Steve Cooper’s men right back on the opening day of the season, in September 2020, but Frankie says this is not relevant to now: “It seems like a long time ago,” he told iFollow PNE.
“We lost the game 1-0, but it is in the past and the most important thing is to look forward to the game that is coming up.
“Let’s concentrate on the here and now; let’s look at the squad of players to make sure we assess everyone that played against Norwich and get the right team, the right personnel and the right shape on the pitch.”
Looking back at the Good Friday draw, he felt there was plenty to work on: “After reflection, when everyone looks back on it, the positive was that we got a draw,” he continued.
“I thought in terms of our game-plan and how we wanted to put our stamp on it, we created some good goalscoring opportunities, I thought – in the main – we got balls into the box, I thought we tried pretty hard to set off the press, to try and win the ball back early and go and hurt them, so I am happy with some aspects in terms of some good link up play, we were quick to move it and create opportunities, but defensively, we provided need to tidy up things going forward.
“If we are going to play two up top, we have to get that structure behind it correct. Yesterday we played the 4-1-3-2 and at times we were probably too open and Norwich had a good few opportunities and chances to score, so they are areas we can look to try and improve on, but all in all, I am delighted for the group, it is a good point and a building block, so let’s go and try and take it forward into the next games.”
And he stressed that it will be the same mantra ringing in the team’s ears when they head to South Wales, that they must concentrate on themselves: “It has to be the same message. We were very mindful of Norwich – they are a good team – and I thought the best way to create opportunities was the way we set up.
“On reflection, they caused us problems when they broke the first part of the press, so I need to look at what’s the best way going forward for each of the games.
“I thought there were some good parts and it is just a case of getting the structure, to give us the best platform to try and win the game.”
And after his first game as the man at the helm, what were Frankie’s thoughts on the experience as a whole?
“It is totally different to being a No.2 compared to being the guy that is at the forefront of it,” he admitted.
“I now understand the pressure that Alex was under and the pressures that everybody else is under and Alex used to say that you didn’t understand the pressure until you were under it too and he was 100 per cent right.
“It is pressure, but you have to deal with situations as they are. You don’t realise how much there is to do, but you have to make it as enjoyable as you can for yourself and that’s the bit that I will try do better going forward.
“The first game was Norwich, which we knew was going to be difficult, but the task that we set as a group was to try and come away with a result, that box is ticked and now we have to focus on Swansea, that is our biggest focus now and trying to tidy up the bits we didn’t do so well against Norwich and try and work better on the bits that we did do well as well, lots to look forward to on Saturday and Sunday, to be ready for Monday.”
The players returned to Euxton on Saturday morning, retaining the smiles on their faces that they had when they left PR1 on Friday evening and the interim head coach believes this is an important factor.
“It is massive. Confidence is a big thing within the group and you saw the togetherness that they have got and that is what I have tried to instil in them.
“There is a great camaraderie about them, a mutual trust and friendship about the group and they need to stay strong. When you have that, it gives you something to build on.
We have to make sure that our mindset is a positive one, every if we go a goal down, the mindset should be to keep going, keep working, try and create goalscoring opportunities and if we take them, then you never know what will happen in a game,” he added.
For our trip to the Liberty Stadium, Jonathan Breeze and former PNE full back Rob Edwards will be on commentary duties on Easter Monday, brining you all the action exclusively from around 2.30pm. Click here now to sign up for an iFollow PNE match pass.