Having enjoyed consecutive 11th placed finishes in the Championship since winning promotion from League One, Preston North End will have been hoping to push on up the table in the 2017/18 season.
But they would have to do it with a different manager as Simon Grayson left to take over what looked like an attractive role as Sunderland manager. Oh, if only he knew.
Former Norwich City boss Alex Neil was named the new manager of the Lancashire side and set about making small tweaks to his squad.
Two months into the season, and the club were in a strong position. They had only lost once in the first 12 games of the campaign but had also only won five.
However, it left them in fifth place, higher than they had been under Grayson. One player was starting to really shine for the club as well in the form of striker Jordan Hugill.
The 26-year-old found the net eight times before the turn of the year and was proving to be a vital member of their success.
As the end of the January transfer window approached, Neil’s side had slipped out of the top six but were certainly not out of the hunt by any means.
On transfer deadline day, however, a sale was made that had the potential to ruin their season.
This is FLW Rewind where we take a look back at a big decision made by a club, analyse the initial reaction and document what happened next.
— Preston North End FC (@pnefc) January 31, 2018
The big news was that star striker Hugill had been sold to West Ham United for just under £10million.
It is the sort of news that can often devastate a fan base but in this instants, the fans were mostly full of praise for the quality of the deal done by their board:
I love you. Thanks for the money x
— ollie (@olliefrimston) January 31, 2018
Best of luck Jordan.
Well done PNE – great deal.
— The Hooded Claw (@NinjaNobber) February 1, 2018
Never been so happy to sell a player. Weve robbed them
— MMAce (@MassiveMMA) January 31, 2018
Bye mate ????????
— Ollie (@__Kingy) January 31, 2018
They clearly felt that Hugill was not as good as his form may have portrayed and were still confident of having a successful season.
And they were absolutely right to think so.
Neil kept his side playing with the same solidity and same high work ethic and it was working an absolute charm as they maintained their place around the playoffs.
A five-game unbeaten run finished the season and it so nearly saw North End steal a place in the top-six, but despite a 2-1 win against Burton Albion on the final day, missed out by just two points to Derby County.