Preston North End: Some Perspective

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It’s a simple title but honestly, the solitary word itself would have done. Perspective.

I will start this by admitting that in the West Brom game, we struggled to really lay a glove on them and in the final 35 minutes or so of the Fulham game, we looked flat.

However, what did fans genuinely expect from two games against 1st and 3rd in the league? Two wins? A draw and a win? We’re a side built on a bottom 6 budget or thereabouts.

As is evidenced in this tweet by Keiran Maguire (@PriceofFootball on twitter), we had the 7th lowest wage bill in the Championship last season but the 6th highest wage to income ratio.

We had the 3rd lowest matchday revenue in the league and the second-lowest revenue in the Championship.

We have built a squad over many seasons, comparatively, on peanuts.

Simply put, we are currently punching well above our weight.

The Fulham game is one in which we were well in the game for a period of time, we looked the side more likely to score. They never really troubled us and it was a very, very fortunate own goal from David Nugent that put them ahead.

The second goal came on the back of us trying to find a late equaliser from a corner by sending pretty much everyone up into the box and we got hit on the counter. In all honesty, I thought 2-0 flattered Fulham.

Prior to the season starting, we ran a poll on twitter and PNE-Online ran one on the forum and over 660 fans voted in them both.

I would be willing to bet that of the over 500 people who voted in both of the polls that we would finish mid-table are some of the people seemingly going into meltdown on Twitter and Facebook (I’ve not looked on PNE-Online for my own health and sanity) at the fact we haven’t played well against two of the top 3 teams in the league.

Some people seem to have a huge problem with others stating the fact that we are, funnily enough, still 6th at the moment. This is simply a fact. It’s total conjecture to say for a fact that we won’t be in the top 6 come next weekend. It’s possible, yes. But not a fact.

We have a 2 point gap and a better goal difference over Bristol City who are currently 7th. We have a 3 point gap over Blackburn Rovers in 8th, a 4 point gap over Swansea City in 9th and a 5 point gap over Millwall and Cardiff who are 10th and 11th respectively.

I have seen people saying that we are lucky to be where we are. We are where we are on merit, on the number of points picked up over a 46 game season. By the same token, are West Brom lucky to be where they are and that all the teams below them dropped points? No, they are top of the table on merit. Like we are currently 6th on merit.

The other thing to consider is that no one else who is challenging for, or in the play-offs, is consistently picking up points. The only side in the play-offs with a better points return than us in the last 6 games is Fulham.

Only 8 teams have won 3 or more games in the last 6, including us. Our next 2 games, compared to our last 2, are winnable. They won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination but they’re certainly very winnable games. Everything is still in our hands with 10 games to go.

The other thing to look at is the fixture list. Bristol City’s next 5 games, on paper, are difficult. Fulham at home, Rovers away, Sheffield Wednesday at home, Nottingham Forest away and Cardiff City at home. All of these are teams in or challenging for the play-offs.

Rovers’ next 5 games are equally as difficult. They have Derby away, Bristol City at home, Wigan away, Barnsley away and Leeds United at home. You might think Barnsley and Wigan are a gimme but they’re both in better form than us, Rovers and Bristol City in the last 6 games played as they’ve got something to fight for; survival.

Championship form table last 6

At this moment in time, as I said, it’s all in our hands to finish in the top 6 and everything that comes after that is pretty much a lottery.

Saying that, lottery might not be the best word to use to describe it but there’s so much more riding on a play-off game than a regular-season game. Players sometimes react differently and make odd decisions due to the pressure of the game(s) that they’re involved in. Still though, my point is that anything can happen in these games.

I would much rather see us winning ugly in these next 10 games than trying to play swashbuckling football and not picking up points. It’s more than likely going to be tough to sit through and watch at times but if we come out with what we need, the 3 points then I’ll be happy.

I just think people just need to maintain some perspective. We would have absolutely taken the position we are in now at the start of the season, without a doubt. Some people even voted on both polls previously mentioned that we would finish in the bottom 3.

As Oli wrote in the summer, this is the chance of a lifetime for this squad of players and this football club.

It’s time for our fans to stop pissing and moaning at one another on social media and about certain players and things the manager does or doesn’t do, or about certain players not being picked over other players and back the XI that gets picked every week and help to push us all on to where we want to be which is in the top 6 come May.