Preston North End manager Alex Neil says that previous encounters with clubs are not important and that each new clash is another unique challenge.
Speaking ahead of the Lilywhites’ trip across the Pennines to face Neil Thompson’s Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, the PNE boss reflected on last July’s win, but said that it counted for nothing when it comes to the weekend.
“The game there last year, we changed our shape and focused on getting down the sides of them and different things like that,” he told iFollow PNE to preview the Hillsborough match. “We created a lot of chances, but we found ourselves behind, purely because we were wasteful in front of goal in the first half.
“But we managed to win the game and each challenge against every opposition is different; you never have to games that are similar. We just have to treat this as a new match and do the best we can.”
Since then, the Owls have changed manager twice and the North End gaffer was heading to see them in action at St Andrews, against Coventry, on Wednesday night to try and get a better understanding of their current approach.
“It has been difficult [to understand what they might do],” he continued. “Since Tony left, they haven’t yet filled that void, but they have been on a good run of form. They have picked up some good results. They have had some cup games in there where they have given some of the younger players some chances, but I would fully expect that at Coventry I would expect they will be back to whatever they deem to be their strongest team.
“The games I have watched, they have changed their shape regularly, they have changed their personnel regularly – because of the cup games.
“We have been in this scenario before where we have played against teams that have lost managers prior to playing us and what we tended to do is touch on their key players and things they like to do, but really focus on what we are going to do.
“Barry Bannan has been a key player since he has been there. He is captain at the moment and we know we are going to have to keep him quiet. But equally they have some very good attacking options; [Adam] Reach is a really dangerous player, [Kadeem] Harris is a dangerous player, so, like any team, you have to keep their attacking quality quiet and then you need to try and impose yourself on the game; it is not going to be any different from any other match.”
His preparations for the Roses match have been with a free week, the first of three in a row, and Alex has enjoyed it, without thinking too far ahead.
“It will have been nice for some of the lads. We’ve had a couple of bumps and bruises as well, so it has been good for them to recover and hopefully we will be well prepared.
“At the moment we are only working week by week and not planning too far ahead; although we have a schedule in place, everything is subject to change.
“We have had a couple of games move recently and so we just take one day at a time, get ourselves ready, train hard and try and be ready for the weekend.
"Of late, we have been defensively more solid, we have been harder to beat, we have picked up some good victories, with four wins and a draw in our last seven, so we have been in good form.
“The lads coming in have lifted everyone and we know that this next period is going to be absolutely crucial.
“If we can put a set of results together in our next ten games, we go into the run in, in a really strong position. There is a whole bulk of teams in that middle ground at the moment and one of them will certainly come out of the pack and we have to try and make sure it is us,” he added.
Former North End and Wednesday winger, who played in the above game, Chris Sedgwick, will be joining the iFollow commentary team this weekend. He and Jonathan Breeze will be live from Hillsborough from 2.30pm and you can click here now to sign up for an iFollow PNE match pass.