Alex Neil has worked wonders at Deepdale, with a host of Preston players improving under his management.
Alan Browne and Callum Robinson have become two of the Championship’s top performers under Neil, with Premier League interest inevitable.
Yet his biggest success story yet may be defender Ben Davies, who has excelled in almost two years under Neil.
The 23-year-old produced a superb display to shackle Lewis Grabban on Saturday as North End drew 0-0 with Nottingham Forest. In fact, Davies was today named in WhoScored’s Championship team of the week, summing up his outstanding performance.
That’s just the latest in a long line of great showings from Davies, who has come a long, long way.
It’s not long ago that North End announced a new contract for Davies, and a number of fans responded with bemusement after some less-than-impressive loan spells. Fans may even remember how he was terrorised by Jamal Campbell-Ryce when playing as a left back for Preston in 2014.
His last loan, with Fleetwood, saw Davies star as a left-sided centre back, and Neil handed him a key role upon his appointment. Davies now has more than 60 appearances to his name under Neil, and is one of the first names on the Preston team sheet. His composure both on the ball and when facing defenders is admirable, whilst he also allows North End to play out from the back as Neil wants.
When Davies signed that deal in 2016, few could have predicted that he would become the key man in Preston’s defence. His progression under Neil has been remarkable and completely unexpected; at least with Browne and Robinson you could see there was huge talent that just needed to be unlocked.
In Davies, Neil has developed a top class centre half both defensively and on the ball. He now looks to be an asset worth eight figures in the transfer market, and Neil deserves huge praise for his work with the converted centre back.