When Preston signed Darnell Fisher in 2017, it’s fair to say eyebrows were raised.
Fisher had spent just one season with Rotherham United, and it wasn’t a particularly joyous one. The Millers were relegated from the Championship, and Fisher didn’t impress at all.
Alan Stubbs had spotted Fisher in Scotland with St Johnstone, and brought him down to Yorkshire. Sadly, Fisher’s first season in the Championship was a difficult one. He was out of sorts for much of the campaign, and many will remember Aiden McGeady tearing him apart for Preston against Rotherham in the 2016-17 season.
Alex Neil came in as North End boss months later, and immediately wanted a right back. Marnick Vermijl was frozen out, whilst both Alex Baptiste and Tyias Browning weren’t kept after their loan moves.
Neil chose Fisher. He noted that he wanted the right back at Norwich City, so the move certainly made sense. Yet if you look back at the reactions on Twitter to Fisher’s arrival, there are many Rotherham fans laughing and Preston supporters despairing.
Fast forward nearly three years, and Preston have had the last laugh. Fisher is one of the first names on the teamsheet for Neil when fit and available – after all, his disciplinary record is a major blot on the copybook.
The 26-year-old has made himself one of the top right backs in the Championship, providing real attacking thrust for North End whilst continuing to show that he is a strong one-on-one defender.
Yes, there have been lapses of concentration and a concerning dip in form in 2018, but Fisher has largely defied the criticism aimed at him before even kicking ball for North End.
Fisher was once praised by Neil Lennon at Celtic. Lennon branded Fisher ‘mature’ and ‘very composed’, and having seemingly lost his way at Rotherham, he has been living up to that billing at Preston.
The Bhoys have struggled at right back in recent times, and maybe Fisher would have earned that spot had Lennon stayed beyond 2014 before returning last year. We’re very thankful that Fisher ended up at Deepdale, and it’s hard to see him losing his spot any time soon.