The promising start to Frankie McAvoy’s came to a crashing end on Saturday.
Brentford brushed Preston aside with ease as they continued their promotion push with a 5-0 win. Frankie went with the same side from the Swansea game but it was The Bees’ Thomas Frank who came out on top.
A class above
Preston beat Brentford 4-2 earlier this season in one of the highlights of the campaign but they were no match this time round. Brentford are a great side and have been consistently in this league for some time now. This wasn’t the worst display by North End this season but it shows how far away they are from the best teams in this division now.
Brentford barely had to get into second gear. It was simple for them with Preston’s defence not looking at Championship standard at all. They were sloppy, with Jordan Storey having a bad game particularly. In the second half we ended up with Tom Barkhuizen at left back and Andrew Hughes as the left side centre half in a back four. Let’s remember Sepp van den Berg isn’t a right back either despite his decent performances of late.
Improvements need to be made in the summer. I don’t think anyone would be too disappointed to see the whole defence replaced.
This was a Brentford side who had drawn four of their last five and North End would have fancied their chances. Indeed they started well but each goal was all too easy. Brentford cut through Preston like a hot knife through butter.
Bodin instead of Moult?
McAvoy’s five substitutions meant we ended the game with no recognised strikers on the pitch. Of course Billy Bodin has played as a striker previously in his career but he is more comfortable out wide. Louis Moult was on the bench again and you felt with the game already gone he might as well have been given a run out. Although both look set to leave the club anyway in the summer.
Emil Riis frustrates
The lad has got talent, it’s clear to see that, but he doesn’t produce it often enough. We’ve seen glimpses this season and he reminds me of Lukas Nmecha. When he was on loan from Manchester City he was very confident and technically excellent on the ball but often lacked an end product. Whilst Riis is not at the same standard he does have strong attributes to his game. He’s a good runner and holds the ball up well. His decision making and finishing are left to be questioned though.
His last action of the game summed up our season. Ryan Ledson lofted a beautiful ball into the area for Riis. He could either have hit a first time shot or controlled it and assessed his options for a pass or an effort on goal. Instead the Dane got caught between both options and instead missed the ball. He was duly substituted for Scott Sinclair.
An attacking approach we’re not used to
McAvoy held his hands up after the game and said the ‘gung-ho’ approach didn’t pay off. At 2-0 down the interim manager made some attacking changes but they failed to ignite a comeback. He threw more players forward and it led to exposure in the already leaky defence. Brentford was clinical on the counter and the heavy defeat followed. A blotch on McAvoy’s short tenure and he will want to return to winning ways as soon as possible. Safety is not yet confirmed and a few more points are needed.
Under Alex Neil, after going a couple of goals down against a top side like Brentford he would often shut up shop and not try to fully attack a comeback. Of course there are occasions where we did manage to get back into the game like the reverse picture. But certainly towards the end of Neil’s time at Deepdale there would be little fight from the team. Ultimately though regardless of McAvoy’s tactics the team did look exhausted and out of ideas.
A big summer ahead
Players should be playing for their futures at the club at the moment. Right now it seems that many aren’t cut out for this level, especially if we have ambitions for play-off pushes. We’re a long way away from that in most departments. Quality needs to be brought in in the summer but it’s hard to come by for a affordable price. Whilst Sir Trevor Hemmings didn’t have any luck in the Grand National, he will have much bigger problems to contend with at Preston North End this summer.