Preston are yet to announce a replacement for Alex Neil – but Frankie McAvoy is now surely the favourite for the job.
Saturday’s 2-0 win over Barnsley handed McAvoy a fourth win in seven games as interim head coach, keeping four clean sheets in a row and five in his seven games.
McAvoy may have been Neil’s right hand man, but he has shown that he is willing to do it his own way, playing a 3-4-1-2 system with a great focus on getting the ball into the box quicker.
North End are in great form, and maybe it’s just the new manager bounce combined with playing teams towards the end of the season, but McAvoy deserves huge praise for the work he’s doing.
Some believe that the Scot should be given the job full-time now, but Preston have to stick to the plan and interview a number of candidates before making a decision.
Yes, McAvoy should be one of the frontrunners for the job after this run. It may not be perceivably ‘sexy’ to pick him, but he has earned that consideration over the last six weeks.
However, the summer gives North End an ideal chance to take a step back and look at other candidates who may not have been available for talks in recent weeks.
Hull City’s Grant McCann is one such candidate, as his focus has been on taking the Tigers back to the Championship. The same goes for Uwe Rosler, who is also in a promotion race with Fortuna Dusseldorf.
Gareth Ainsworth has been trying to keep Wycombe Wanderers in the Championship, whilst Michael Appleton – a long shot due to the compensation needed for him – is also in the League One promotion battle.
The end of the season is the best time to try and target such managers, rather than with a few weeks of the campaign to go.
It will be important for North End to speak to various candidates; experienced mangers, up-and-comers, first-time managers, coaches in the game, coaches out of a job, potential candidates abroad.
McAvoy has done everything he can, and that should get him a ticket in the Preston managerial raffle.
The prize isn’t his just yet though, and rather than jump into appointing a caretaker long-term – something which hasn’t gone well at times with other clubs, though did work for Preston with Billy Davies – Preston need to let the dust settle and take May to go through their list of candidates.
By doing that, hopefully North End will find the right man. It could be McAvoy, it could be another name believed to be on the list, or somebody we don’t know about yet, but Preston must get this appointment right, which is why patience and level-headedness is needed.