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Preston are sleepwalking; signing a striker isn't going to solve all the problems

Over in the NFL, the first Monday after the new season starts is branded ‘overreaction Monday’.

Fans are liable to getting a little carried away. Win the first game and you harbour dreams of a great season. Lose and the sinking feeling starts very, very early.

Trying to avoid those overreactions is important for fans, players, staff, everybody as a new season gets underway, and it’s no different with Preston.

In this case though, the negative feeling after North End’s 4-1 opening day thrashing at the hands of Hull City is no overreaction.

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Fans have feared this kind of performance after a lacklustre summer window, and the way newly-promoted Hull dismantled Frankie McAvoy’s side should be a huge wake-up call to everybody at Preston.

Yes, it started well with a goal from Emil Riis, but it was all downhill from there.

Preston had no control of the game, little threat going forward, no organisation at the back and players looking confused with their roles.

Hull deserve credit for their display; Grant McCann’s men cut through Preston at will mere months after winning promotion, and losing so heavily to a newly-promoted side raises major questions about the quality of this North End squad.

There is a belief that Preston just need to find a striker. Peter Ridsdale even told Lancs Live himself that North End’s recruitment is now done outside of a new goalscorer.

Yet the notion that a new striker is the only missing piece at Deepdale is ridiculous. The squad lacks real Championship quality yet is bloated with players who would struggle to get into sides up and down the Championship.

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New contracts were given to Josh Harrop and Sean Maguire last summer, but you have to question whether they would even make Preston’s best matchday squad.

Recruitment has been poor stretching back to 2019, with the likes of Connor Ripley and Joe Rafferty unlikely to attract much Championship interest if North End made them available.

You even really have to question this summer’s business too. Daniel Iversen and Sepp van den Berg are very good loan signings, but the players owned by Preston have arrival for a total shy of £250,000.

Quality has been taken out of this side repeatedly over the last three-and-a-half years. Jordan Hugill, Greg Cunningham, Callum Robinson, Ben Davies, Darnell Fisher and Ben Pearson were all sold and barely replaced; in fact, Cunningham returned earlier this year because Preston still needed a left back.

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Preston lack quality and now saleable assets. If you lack immediate quality but have young players with resale value, at least there’s a plan in place for the future. If you have quality but a lack of resale value, you’re aiming to be in win-now mode.

North End appear to have neither. The results towards the end of last season seem to have convinced the Preston decision makers that this squad is good enough, but the goal has changed now. This isn’t about stringing together a good eight games to finish a season strongly. This is a new season and the outward intention appears to be just staying up.

Preston are sleepwalking right now whilst the likes of Luton Town show ambition within their budget, and a striker signing isn’t going to solve this. Bringing in Liam Delap on loan, a kid with little first-team experience, isn’t going to paper over the cracks.

Preston need to find impact players, adding pace in the final third and control in the middle. It doesn’t sound like North End plan to make signings outside of a striker though, and this feels like a huge risk after Saturday’s dismal showing appeared to confirm many fan fears.

The apathy towards North End has been built up over many transfer windows of disappointment, and having been shown up on Saturday, Preston need to respond with more than just a striker – and whilst the size of the squad is a concern, that is again down to errors in judgment in recent years.

A teenage striker would be great, but Preston are lacking more than that right now, and Saturday’s defeat really needs to spark everybody at Deepdale into life.

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