More than two years since arriving at Preston, we still don’t really know much about Joe Savage.
When Preston appointed Alex Neil as manager in 2017, he brought only a couple of staff with him. Frankie McAvoy arrived as assistant boss having worked with Neil at Hamilton Academical and Norwich City, and Savage followed.
Savage was appointed as ‘head of recruitment’. The club’s confirmation of his appointment remains the only mention of his name on the club’s official website.
We’ve never heard from Savage, and the only shot of him at Preston is of half of his head in the background of a photo of Neil. Put simply, we don’t know much about the 35-year-old, who hails from the same town in Scotland – Bellshill – as Neil and McAvoy.
Preston’s transfers since Savage’s arrival have been mixed. Darnell Fisher, Billy Bodin, Jordan Storey, Joe Rafferty and Patrick Bauer have impressed, but with Peter Ridsdale involved too, it’s unclear just who Savage has actually recommended to the club.
Still, it seems that Savage is on the radar of other clubs. The Independent claim that Southampton are keen on Savage, whilst Hearts are interested in handing him a return to Scotland.
We’ll start with Southampton. The Premier League side just lost director of football operations Ross Wilson (above) to Rangers, and are looking to bring in a replacement. Savage would be succeeding his fellow Scot at the St Mary’s Stadium, but conflicting reports are emerging.
The Daily Echo claim that Savage isn’t actually on Southampton’s radar at all, and won’t be Wilson’s successor. That’s probably great news for Neil and Preston, but Hearts are another shock suitor.
Hearts sacked Craig Levein last week, who was in the strange position of being manager and director of football at Tynecastle. Savage is seemingly being eyed for the director of football role, potentially offering Savage a return to Scotland.
Whether that would appeal to Savage remains to be seen. He’d have a bigger role at Hearts, as Ridsdale is the most influential man at Preston off the field.
With speculation about Neil’s future last week and now Savage, Preston’s success is turning heads – but fortunately, it looks like the staff will stay together for now at least.