Preston North End advisor Peter Ridsdale considered appointing Lee Bowyer as the club’s manager if Alex Neil ended up leaving for Stoke City in November 2019, per The Athletic.
The Lilywhites had a lightning-fast start last season, and after a 1-0 victory on November 3 against Charlton Athletic they reached the summit of the Championship after 15 games played.
North End wouldn’t be able to maintain their momentum with the likes of Leeds, West Brom and Fulham with bigger budgets and more fire-power climbing above them, but PNE were in the play-off race for most of the season before fading in the final weeks, eventually finishing ninth.
But an approach threatened to derail their season even earlier and that was on the weekend where they went into top spot of the league following their win over the Addicks.
Rumours were rife that Stoke City, who had just parted ways with Nathan Jones and were in the Championship relegation zone, wanted to take Neil from North End to lead their charge up the table.
North End though were unhappy at what had transpired and reported the Potters to the FA for an illegal approach for their manager – but per The Athletic’s big report on North End today Neil ‘fancied’ moving to the Bet365 Stadium – but no official approach ever came.
That didn’t stop Peter Ridsdale looking at potential replacements at the time though should Neil have ended up departing, and one man who was being considered was Lee Bowyer.
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Bowyer was at Charlton at the time and had taken the Addicks up from League One the season prior, and at the time of the clash between them and North End in November 2019 they were sitting in 10th position – far above what was expected of them.
Bowyer was a player at Leeds United during Ridsdale’s time as chairman of the club, and it remained simply a consideration by the PNE advisor as Neil remained at Deepdale after Stoke’s failed approach.
The 43-year-old may have been on the radar once again following Neil’s sacking last week, but just days before he resigned from Charlton to take up the job at former club Birmingham City.
It would be interesting to back in time and see what would’ve happened if Neil did indeed go to Stoke instead of Michael O’Neill and North End appointed Bowyer.
Stoke haven’t done too badly under the former Northern Ireland manager and there’s no guarantee Neil would have pulled them out of the relegation battle last season – and for poor results this season Neil has paid the price for sticking around by losing his job.
If Bowyer had waited a week longer to leave Charlton then there’s every chance he may have been in contention for the North End job once again, but he’s already moved on with Birmingham – meanwhile Ridsdale is seeking for Neil’s successor elsewhere.