With no football for a month now, fans and players will no doubt be growing a little bored, even if safety is the priority in the face of the global health crisis.
News outlets are struggling for content too, and Sky Sports have decided now is the right time to discuss the Championship Team of the Season so far, which no real indication of when play will resume.
Firstly though, Sky’s panel of David Prutton, Keith Andrews and Gary Weaver picked a manager for their team, and unsurprisingly went with Leeds United’s Marcelo Bielsa.
Bielsa pipped Sabri Lamouchi to the post, but when asked for honourable mentions, Preston boss Alex Neil’s name popped up a couple of times, with the Scot praised for his work at Deepdale.
Neil has Preston sat in the top six as things stand, with Preston having a real shot at the playoffs when football returns – even after four defeats in the last five games.
Preston even went top of the league in November, with Neil working wonders to have North End punching way above their weight, challenging clubs with much bigger budgets.
Now, commentator Weaver has praised Preston as ‘such a well-run club’, from the command chain to the scouting setup, adding that Neil has done a ‘brilliant job’ at North End.
Prutton agreed that Preston can beat anybody on their day, and noted how Neil’s comments after beating Charlton Athletic in November – suggesting that this is the best squad he’s had to chase promotion – really struck a chord with him.
“I’d mention Alex Neil as well,” said Weaver. “I just think the whole system and setup at Preston North End, behind the scenes and obviously on the pitch is excellent. You’ve got Trevor Hemmings at the top, the owner, you’ve got Peter Ridsdale in there, down to Alex Neil; it’s a very clear command chain, and the way they go about and scout their players, they go over to Ireland and watch players there, and get players in from lower league, and turn them into this team which, when they’re at full strength and they’re right on top of their game, they can beat anyone in this league. It’s such a well-run club and he’s doing a brilliant job.”
“We spoke to him after the Charlton game at The Valley, and I thought he said something quite pertinent, he said he truly believes it’s the best team that will get him promoted. If you look at what he did at Norwich, you look at his Preston side and on their day, at full strength, they can beat anyone in the league, and he knows exactly that. That really struck a chord with me,” added Prutton.