This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Preston North End are looking for a new manager after parting ways with long-serving Alex Neil yesterday after nearly four years in charge.
It has been a while since PNE fans have seen their manager get axed, with Graham Westley being the last one over eight years ago – his replacement Simon Grayson did a good job with the Lilywhites before moving to Sunderland in the summer of 2017.
That’s when Neil came into the fold and after finishes of 7th, 14th and 9th in the last three Championship seasons, North End looked set to push for the play-offs at the start of 2021.
But players like Ben Davies and Ben Pearson were sold and January saw a mass turnover of players, with eight coming through the door and eight also departing.
And it hasn’t worked out with North End losing seven games in their last 11 since the transfer window slammed shut, and Neil has paid the price for those results with losing his job.
Now the hunt begins for a new manager, with PNE advisor Peter Ridsdale stressing that any permanent appointment will only come when North End are secure in the Championship for another season – and Neil’s former assistant Frankie McAvoy will get the chance as interim head coach to put his credentials forward.
Who do the FLW team think that North End should appoint as the next manager though? Let’s take a look…
It’s difficult to say really because whilst there are standout names like Chris Wilder available now, I just don’t see how the job at Preston will appeal to him.
Personally, I think we might see North End look to the lower leagues to get a manager in.
Obviously you’ve got someone like Michael Appleton who has done and outstanding job with Lincoln City. If they don’t win promotion this season, he might become someone of interest to Preston.
I don’t think that will be a bad avenue for North End to explore, but they need to take their time and make sure that they get the right man in. There isn’t much rush to get someone through the door before the end of the season.
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I think they need experience and for me I believe Tony Pulis is one they will be looking at.
Okay, his spell at Sheffield Wednesday didn’t go to plan, but hear me out on this one.
He’d be joining a club which has a lot better infrastructure than the Owls and he wouldn’t have to be dealing with matters off the pitch.
Therefore I could see him thriving at Deepdale and for me he is one of the best candidates that is readily available in the current managerial market.
For me, I’d be looking towards the likes of Michael Appleton or Ryan Lowe.
Appleton has the connection of playing for the Lilywhites and deserves a crack at a job in the Championship.
Of course, he’s currently fighting at the sharp end of League One for promotion with Lincoln City after a stellar campaign so it may be hard to prize him away from Sincil Bank.
However, with it looking like Preston won’t appoint a new manager until the summer, Appleton could be tempted should the Imps fail to achieve promotion this term.
He’s a progressive manager that has shown he can get everyone pulling in the same direction, something that Preston need at the moment with it unclear what direction they are really heading.
Ryan Lowe has shone during his time in charge of Plymouth too, and is someone who deploys an exciting brand of attacking football, something that Preston fans will want to be seeing next season.