The football season is well and truly underway now. With a crammed schedule seeing games played left, right and centre it’s going to be a testing time for managers and their squads.
However, even though fans aren’t back yet, From the Finney Is!
North End have had a mixed start to the season but we headed into the international break with a superb comeback victory over Brentford. After finding ourselves 2-0 down at the end of the first half, we flew out of the box in the second half and scored four second-half goals in just 18 minutes. It was a good afternoon to be a PNE fan.
Here are five things we’ve learned from the start of the new season.
Ryan Ledson Has Been a Key Player For Us
Ryan Ledson arrived at Deepdale over two years ago, and whilst he always seemed like an eventual replacement for Ben Pearson, it was frustrating for him and us to see him given limited opportunities. Mainly used as and when Pearson was suspended, Ledson initially came across as a tough-tackling player, who would never shy away from a challenge.
However, since the resumption of football last season, it’s safe to say that he has absolutely taken his chance. Ledson now looks like our most creative player at points in the games he’s featured in and has been playing some fantastic pinpoint passes through our opponent’s backline. With Scott Sinclair, Tom Barkhuizen and Seani Maguire always looking to play off the shoulder, Ledson has shown he has the capability to play great through balls and create some great chances for our forwards.
At 23 years old, Ryan is still young and has time on his side and it should be great to see him continue to improve and become a big part of this team. You can read “young Josh’s” piece about Ryan Ledson’s coming of age here.
Scott Sinclair Is Looking Better and Better
I covered Scott Sinclair on here numerous times last season since his move from Celtic. He got off to a slow start with North End. At times, it was disappointing as expectations were high considering he was our highest-profile signing for a number of years.
He did start to put in some better performances towards the latter end of the season, but it is in the start of this campaign that he has finally started to look like the player we were hoping for. His displays so far have been impressive, particularly against Brentford last week.
He looked confident on the ball on the left-hand side, against a tough side as well. Also, I thought he took his two goals incredibly well. The first was a great first-time finish, and the second was a fast ball fizzed into him that he had to quickly react to and managed to bring it under control before he applied a finish that you wouldn’t necessarily back many others in our squad to do.
Let’s hope Scotty continues to put in some magical, wonderful displays.
The only downer to his season so far his the fact he managed to slip and fall over on Soccer AM on Saturday morning, much to the amusement of Jimmy Bullard who went on to shout “BALENCIAGA!!!” at Scotty. It’s a funny watch if you’ve not seen it.
Scott Sinclair falling over in Balenciagas and Jimmy Bullard running at him doing his thing and saying “BALENCIAGAS!” Is what you need on this Saturday morning. pic.twitter.com/HhWUdtjyu2— lewi waring (Champions of England) ✊🏻🔴 (@lewiswaring1) October 10, 2020
We Finally Looked Abroad
The signing of Emil Riis Jakobsen caught many of us by surprise. The first permanent signing made from abroad since Keammar Daley back in 2011 (obviously not counting our numerous signings from the Republic of Ireland).
Many fans have consistently called for North End to look overseas when it comes to scouting new players. It makes sense considering more often than not, transfer fees in this country are over-inflated and other clubs like Brentford have shown the rest of the league that you can find some absolute bargains overseas.
Whilst your average Preston fan’s knowledge of the big Danish striker will be limited, it’s still an interesting signing.
One that we kept quiet, and based on the videos and his short substitute appearance last week, he looks like he could be a handful. Tall, strong and pacey, the exact type of striker that Alex Neil loves. Hopefully, it turns out to be a wonderful bit of business, and will also give Seani Maguire and Jayden Stockley some much-needed competition.
Squad Depth Has Been Shown Already
Whilst we’ve only picked up one win from our first four league games, the performances have suggested we should have more than four points on the board.
The Carabao Cup games against Mansfield Town and Derby County were also impressive and the performances rightly merited victories. When you consider that players such as Darnell Fisher and Daniel Johnson have been missing for the majority of the season up to now, I would say that we have coped well without them, so far.
Darnell seems to miss a lot of games for us either through injury or suspension but Joe Rafferty or Alan Browne tend to provide decent cover. There’s no doubting that we are a much better team with Fisher playing on the right, though.
DJ was our player of the season last year, and it was incredibly worrying when he was linked with a move to Glasgow Rangers. Luckily nothing transpired with that one. He has missed out on a few games so far this season with “niggles” but it’s provided a chance for Ryan Ledson in midfield, who, as I mentioned earlier in this piece, has taken his chance.
Alan Browne has also reverted back to his preferred role in the #10, and Brad Potts has had a few games and himself a goal, too. We do have a good squad now, and hopefully, we can keep some of the “big 4”, or “big 5” as Oli referred to them recently on the podcast, together past the end of their domestic transfer window on Friday, which leads me nicely on to my final point.
Expiring Contracts Still… Expiring
The contract situations with Alan Browne, DJ, Ben Pearson, Ben Davies and Darnell Fisher still haven’t been sorted.
The positive is that they are all still here, but they do continue to be linked with moves away, Davies especially. Although, with West Ham signing Craig Dawson on loan from Watford, that might put an end to any hopes Ben had of a move to the Premier League this window.
With the January transfer window only 12 weeks away from opening, however, some of our star players’ values will be much lower come January if no contracts have been signed. If we are not chasing a place in the top 6 at least at that point then I imagine we would choose to cash in on a couple of them.
It would be amazing to see them put pen to paper and it would show huge commitment from both the players and club. They are all great players and presumably key characters in the dressing room as well.
It would be sad to see the fan favourites leave, especially in the current circumstances with fans not being allowed into stadiums at the moment. Not being able to see them play live at Deepdale for the last 7 months and in the foreseeable future, it would be a sad way for such a good few years to come to an end, should it come to that.
If you’ve not yet listened to the latest episode of the From the Finney podcast where we discuss the 2-4 victory over Brentford, hit play on the player below or visit our podcast page to have a look through our recent episodes.