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Frankie McAvoy deserves praise as two Preston North End players emerge as success stories

Preston boss Frankie McAvoy has come under huge pressure of late, but you cannot overlook the job he has done with Emil Riis and Josh Earl.

The North End head coach had gone seven league games without a win before Wednesday’s victory over Coventry City.

That win will hopefully prove to be a springboard for Preston, and was a much-needed boost ahead of facing Blackpool this weekend.

McAvoy was emotional at this morning’s press conference, and we can only hope that his mental health is okay.

This is a tough time; owner Trevor Hemmings passed away last week, and McAvoy is in his first managerial job.

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Going from coach to first-time manager does come with added pressure and scrutiny. Criticism for McAvoy should focus on results and performances rather than anything personal.

We all want the best for Preston, and it’s maybe easy to overlook some of the great work he has done in the midst of some poor results.

There are two key cases here; Emil Riis and Josh Earl.

Riis showed potential last season but also looked shot of confidence under Alex Neil.

This season, McAvoy has put another striker up with Riis and backed the Dane to find the net.

Riis has responded remarkably. The 23-year-old now has nine goals and two assists in just 16 games this season.

Whether it’s the tactical approach or what McAvoy is doing on the training ground, he deserves huge praise for developing Riis.

Riis has emerged as Preston’s most likely goalscorer, and that didn’t look like happening back in March, for instance.

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Riis isn’t the only one to benefit from working under McAvoy, with Earl also thriving.

Neil brought Earl into the team in 2017, but you could argue that he is now playing his best football under McAvoy.

Deployed as a left wing back under McAvoy, Earl’s defensive deficiencies have been masked by Andrew Hughes playing behind him.

Earl has more freedom to go forward and cause problems in the final third, which has been a regular factor in Preston’s approach this season.

Many haven’t been happy with results lately, us included.

None of it is against McAvoy as a man, as a person. We all want the best for North End, and so does McAvoy.

Amidst a sea of criticism of late – some warranted, some not – McAvoy does also deserve to have his positive work highlighted, with both Riis and Earl emerging as success stories from his time in charge.

Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images
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