Ryan Ledson has thrown his full support behind Preston North End manager Alex Neil and has refuted any talk of the squad ‘not playing’ for the Scot.
North End slumped to their third loss in a row without finding the back of the net against Luton Town at Deepdale yesterday, with James Collins’ effort going in off goalkeeper Daniel Iversen.
On paper before the game it looked like both sides were destined for a mid-table finish, but wins for Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday in the relegation zone have made things very interesting – especially after the former’s win over Bristol City yesterday left them nine points behind Preston in 16th with four games in hand.
The Lilywhites could be dragged into a relegation battle – something that was unthinkable at the start of 2021 – and there have been suggestions from fans that the squad aren’t fighting for their manager anymore.
Football Insider claimed last night that Neil was set to be sacked by North End owner Trevor Hemmings, but Ledson made it clear that he doesn’t want to see the manager go and said that he feels sorry for the 39-year-old standing on the touchline having to watch them play right now.
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“B******s, to be honest with you – I want him to stay, I know all the lads want him to stay, I feel sorry for him, I do,” Ledson admitted after yesterday’s loss, per LancsLive.
“We haven’t been good enough, he must be standing on the line thinking ‘what more can I do?’
“He works so hard every day, he’s in at seven in the morning and doesn’t leave until five or six at night – he works so far and we’ve let him down, I can’t stress enough that it’s been nowhere near good enough.
“It’s a difficult time, we all know that.
“As you can imagine it’s low (in the dressing room), if you get picked you should have confidence that someone believes in you and at the end of the day we’ve let (the manager) down and ourselves – we can only take the blame for that.”
It looks increasingly likely that Neil will depart very soon – it may even be announced today – and you do have to feel sorry for him in certain situations.
The likes of Ben Davies and Ben Pearson are not easy to replace and it wasn’t Neil who let their contracts run into their final six months.
But the performances and tactical decisions haven’t been what they once were, and Neil has been more critical of his current squad not being able to play the high-pressing football we first saw when he arrived at Deepdale in 2017.
Neil has definitely split opinion over the last 12 months, but it will be a feeling of disappointment when his departure is confirmed that he wasn’t able to push PNE forward into the top six.