Preston North End manager Alex Neil says his side should have come away from Wycombe with a real desire to put things right at Middlesbrough on Tuesday night.
The North End boss admitted to iFollow PNE that things would look very different if his team could take three points at the Riverside Stadium and that the players should be looking to ‘put things right’.
“It always does [feel better if you can get the win] and that’s the highs and lows of football,” he said. “After Saturday I was probably as gutted as I have felt in quite a long time, but that is only natural when you are a competitor and you want to win.
“Now, we need dust ourselves down, we should have a real steely determination and we have to go and try and win the next game and put a few things right.”
And he believes that with an honest group of players, that will be what he will get: “If they shy away from honesty, this is not the right place for them,” he continued. “The simple fact is, I demand honesty from my players and squad and I demand honesty from myself.
“I have said openly that the form hasn’t been good enough, but we need to rectify it.
“I have been here before, two or three times, where we have been on a difficult run and what we have always had, is the fight and resilience and the quality to come through that and go on and win more games and settle ourselves, to give ourselves a foundation to go and kick on.”
Our hosts for the last midweek game before the international break, are Neil Warnock’s Boro, who picked up a convincing win over Stoke City at the weekend, so what has the PNE boss made of them of late?
“Like most teams, they have had some really good results and likewise, they have had results where they maybe expected to do a bit better. They are still up there challenging to get into the Play-Offs.
“Neil is an experienced manager, so he knows what he is doing and, to be fair, their squad is strong.
“ I was looking at their squad and you look at Darnell, who was an ever-present for us when he was fit, at the moment he can’t get in the team, so that shows the strength in depth they have got – and that is bearing in mind that the boy Dijksteel is missing at the moment, so they have three players for that one position.
“We know it is going to be a tough game; they are a good side, particular on their day and we will have to perform well.
“Saturday shows the type of team they are. I have seen the game they lost at Rotherham and the one they lost at Bristol, but I have also seen the ones where they beat Reading and went and beat Stoke and were really quite convincing.
“For me, it is down to how we will perform on the day – you can talk about form and the last result or the last time we played each other, but it boils down to who produces the best on the day.”
And the gaffer expects for his group, that professional pride will be something that takes over and says that you only have to look at club captain Alan Browne, to see what is required.
“I would expect professional pride to come to the fore. If that isn’t the case, then it is even more damning and worrying. As a player, if you have lost to the bottom of the league, you would want to go and perform as best you can in the next one and do your utmost to make sure you perform as well as you can.
“You need honesty. Look at Alan Browne on Saturday, he, for me, was the one player who right throughout the game gave his all and that’s what we expect from Alan. If everyone had the determination of Alan, we would be fine; the next thing for Alan – and this is the thing I will be challenging him on – is to affect the other players around him, which isn’t always easy, it is difficult.
“Alan is a leader by example, by doing what he does, what I would like to try and get to a point with, with Alan is to where equally, he is affecting others vocally as well. I think he has it in him, because when you are someone like him, who, irrespective of where you are going and who you are playing, has a go, you naturally earn respect from the rest of your peers.
“It is cultivated through time, but equally it is cultivated through being in a settled squad and Alan’s job in doing that side of the game becomes doubly difficult because of the volume of bodies who have come in,” he added.
The game will be live on iFollow PNE from approximately 6.30pm on Tuesday night, with Guy Clarke joined in the Riverside commentary box by former North End defender Michael Jackson; click here now to sign up for an iFollow PNE match pass for £10.