Preston North End’s club captain picked up his first assist of the season on Monday as it was his corner that Ched Evans flicked into the net to seal the three points against Stoke City.
Alan Browne hasn’t been at his creative best this season and hasn’t scored as of yet either. On Monday he was playing in the right wing-back role but in his more familiar position of central midfield he doesn’t seem to get into the attacking areas that he used to.
A few years ago we were accustomed to seeing the Republic of Ireland international drive forward into space. If he had the ball around the edge of the area he’d try a shot on goal. Now we are more used to a conservative Browne. He will often stop the ball and move backwards. It gives the opposition time to catch up with play if we’re on a counter attack and it slows the move down.
In the 2018/19 season we saw the best of Alan Browne. He linked up superbly with Callum Robinson in that campaign and they were a joy to watch. He scored 12 goals in the Championship that season. He’s scored the same amount in the three and half years since that season, also since Robinson departed.
He just hasn’t seemed the same player since. Now 27 he should be in the peak of his career. We’ve seen him mature since his arrival as an 18-year-old and is now the club captain. Nine years at the club and seven of them spent in the Championship hoping to push onto the next level.
No goals this season so far isn’t good enough for Browne and he will be disappointed with that. He did manage three goals for Republic of Ireland in 2022 though.
Perhaps the club captaincy is weighing heavy on his shoulders. But in his defence we haven’t seen enough from any of our central midfielders. Out of the central midfielders only Ben Whiteman has scored and one of the two was a penalty. Ben Woodburn has also got one but that was playing as a striker.
Ryan Lowe’s favoured formation with wing-backs doesn’t seem to see the best attacking threat from our midfielders. In his very first game though we saw Browne and Daniel Johnson pushed up very high behind two strikers. On that day they both got on the scoresheet as we beat Barnsley 2-1.
Lowe has spoken about getting DJ to perform at a higher level more consistently and we need the same from Browne too. Our two longest serving players at the club and the fans know that on their day they can be huge players in this league.