Ryan Lowe admitted he didn’t see the 4-0 home defeat to Norwich City coming, as he described his side’s performance as “sluggish”.
Preston North End went into the game at Deepdale following back-to-back victories over Stoke City and Huddersfield Town, but the Canaries set the standards early on.
Teemu Pukki opened the scoring on 13 minutes before a Kieran Dowell double sent the Canaries into the break with a three-goal lead, before Pukki rounded off the scoring in the second half.
Speaking to iFollow after the game, Ryan said: “I don’t think we were anywhere near being at the races or at the level we’ve performed at of late, especially in the past two games.
“I thought we were sluggish in ways, sluggish with the ball and sluggish without the ball.
“We didn’t defend well and ultimately we gifted some chances to a good team and some good players, and then when you’re 3-0 down it’s hard to get back.
“So we made the changes, changed shape again, but I think there was a lack of desire and a lack of commitment from the group.
“We’ve just said in there that that can’t happen. We’ll have a debrief on Monday and discuss it and there’ll be a few open words of honesty about it because it’s not nice when you’re getting beat at home 4-0.”
PNE started the game in a shape different to what they had played for the majority of the season, opting to go for a back four, with Andrew Hughes and Bambo Diaby as full backs.
With Norwich netting three within the first half hour, the manager made a double change and that formation was changed.
Ryan said: “We wanted to change it up against Norwich anyway from last week after the win against Huddersfield.
“We felt they had some good players, they play the right way and Marshy [Mike Marsh] had worked with the manager [David Wagner] before, and we felt we knew how he’d try and go about his business.
“He did exactly what was expected and what we thought he was going to do. They played a 4-2-4 right up there, they pushed up, and if we’d have played a three it could have been a little bit more difficult for us.
“Obviously we changed late on and it pushed them back a little bit, but the game was already over.”
The manager handed a start to Everton loanee Tom Cannon, who joined the club on Tuesday, while Liam Delap came off the bench on the half-hour mark for his debut.
Both had opportunities, created by the other, and Troy Parrott also featured for the first time since October, when he picked up a hamstring injury incidentally in the reverse fixture against the Canaries.
Asked his opinion on the debutants, Ryan said: “Fantastic, Tom and Liam. Then the second [positive] is having Troy back on the pitch and giving him some minutes. He’s been champing at the bit after a tough injury.
“The two new lads showed what type of class they’ve got and what type of quality they’ve got.
“They’ve got in there and got some good chances where the ‘keeper made a couple of good saves.
“They worked their socks off so that’s a positive really to come out of today.”