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Preston post-match notebook: It's clear to everyone but Ridsdale, this is not sustainable

On a wet and miserable Saturday afternoon, Preston North End only dampened their fans spirits further.

Cardiff City came from behind to record a 2-1 victory at Deepdale. Boos echoed round the stadium at the end of the game, clearly directed towards head coach Frankie McAvoy.

An incredible start

Straight from kick off Preston were on the front foot and showed some urgency. It was strange to see it at that stage of the game as we had barely seen it all season. North End created chances which led to back to back corners and Seani Maguire was able to put one away.

Everyone was delighted to see him score his first league goal of the season as he’s worked tirelessly. Cardiff were shell shocked and were offering nothing themselves going forward.

The game was clearly there to be won and Preston should have pushed for further goals.

Your Player Whose Transfer Value Blew UP In 2021

Your Player Whose Transfer Value Blew UP In 2021

Game of two halves

It’s an old cliche, but it was certainly the case on Saturday. Steve Morison, managing only the fourth game of his career, made a change at half time bringing on James Collins who scored a hat-trick against us last season. The Bluebirds are a direct side and easily outmuscled the lacklustre Preston defence to score from two set pieces.

They didn’t sit back after that and looked to attack more. Unsurprisingly North End didn’t have any ideas to get back into the game, but when do they? We don’t have a style of play, rather just hoping something happens. There’s creative players in that squad but they are being stifled by the management.

Cardiff weren’t great by an means. They looked pretty poor in truth. Let’s remind ourselves that this season they lost eight games in a row which led to Mick McCarthy losing his job.

Frankie McAvoy and Peter Ridsdale talk about ‘our great home form’, well we’ve lost against two teams battling against relegation in Cardiff and Hull City. We’ve only scored 12 goals in nine games as well.

PRESTON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 20:Preston North End head coach Frankie McAvoy looks dejected at the final whistle during the Sky Bet Championship match between Preston North End and Cardiff City at Deepdale on November 20, 2021 in Preston, England. (Photo by Rich Linley – CameraSport via Getty Images)

No plan B

At 2-1 down McAvoy brought Scott Sinclair on. I don’t think either of them knew where he was meant to play though. Eventually it looked like a 4-4-2 with Sinclair and Barkhuizen on the wings. However that only lasted five minutes and Daniel Johnson came on for Maguire. A midfielder for a striker when you need a goal. It then switched to a 4-3-3 but the players looked clueless.

It’s an unbalanced squad with too many centre midfielders, too many injury prone players and he’s not getting the best out of them. It’s painful watching this side pass it side to side not knowing how to create a chance. A complete lack of runs of the ball or any intuition.

Mitrovic can’t wait to play us

The next visitors to Deepdale are Fulham for an early kick off next Saturday. It could be a very embarrassing day in front of the cameras. I’ll be there, because there’s always a small chance you can be surprised and I still want my team to win even if it does paper of the cracks.

We haven’t come up against much quality this season. The Championship is wide open apart from Bournemouth and Fulham. Aleksandar Mitrovic has already scored 21 goals this season. One every 74 minutes on average. He usually scores against us anyway but right now he is on fire and even McAvoy’s back five isn’t enough defenders to cope with him.

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Fans need something to get behind

In truth when I was sat in the Town End before the game today watching the heavens open there was a part of me that was thinking I’m looking forward to being back home. The excitement has all but gone from supporting this team at the moment. I love this club and it’s a huge part of my life but the management team and the players have got to do their bit as well.

There’s plenty of likeable players in that squad but there also seems to be a general acceptance from them and the powers above that we should just be happy to be in this league. We should all be able to aim higher and dream of more. Anything is possible in this league as we have seen.

However if there is just an acceptance to settle for mediocrity then the club will suffer long term. Attendances are already low, and I think all the fans are united in the sense that no good is going to come from all this any time soon.

If this was Paul Gallagher in charge for instance then the fans would be right behind a club legend. You could forgive someone in the infancy of his coaching career for making the odd mistake here and there. I’m sure he would want to play a more attacking and creative style of play too. More passion from players and fans would be apparent if it was Gally who had been given the reins.

Instead we have someone in their 50’s in charge, learning on the job, who by his own admittance never wanted to be a manager. That’s not a recipe for success is it, no matter which way you want to spin it Mr Ridsdale. There’s clearly better candidates out there who would want this job. Act now before this club is sucked into an even bigger mess and by then no one will want to take charge.

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