2022/23 Season Preview: Preston North End


With the 2022/23 season finally upon us, we’ve chosen to take a look at Preston North End ahead of the new campaign and what this year possibly has in store for Ryan Lowe’s men.

Being Ryan Lowe’s first full season in charge and a transfer window behind him, many are expecting Lowe’s identity to be firmly printed on this new-look North End side which released 14 players over the summer.

A new connection:

Over the past few seasons, it’s fair to say that Preston fans haven’t felt the most connected with the club. There wasn’t any sort of supporters group that was in communication with the club, hardly any regular updates, many disagreements over the ownership of the club, it’s hard to find a positive.

Fast forward since the arrival of Ryan Lowe and things have changed drastically. A lot of the credit has to go to director Peter Ridsdale who has regularly communicated with the fan base through club statements and has made an effort to work with the newly formed supporters’ group to hold regular and meaningful meetings.

As for the fans as a whole, a new season ticket initiative was launched with some of the best priced football in the championship. Buying an ‘early bird’ adult season ticket worked out at each respective home game included in the season ticket at costing between £12 and £13, an astonishing deal for the second tier.

This brought in the most season ticket sales in over 50 years for North End and led to the expectation that Ryan Lowe’s men could have Deepdale bouncing this year should they get it right on the pitch.

Exciting business:

In the past few years, fans have regularly been left underwhelmed and disappointed with the transfer business the club have done. North End for far too many years have given fringe players who in reality aren’t good enough for the level, the ‘benefit of the doubt’ and they haven’t produced.

But it appears there’s been a much more ruthless approach, and whilst whether Ryan Lowe has had an effect on that remains to be seen, it was something the club needed.

A number of out of contract players were let go where in the past they may have been offered small extensions, mistakes were admitted with deals like Tom Bayliss who cost North End upwards of seven figures yet left to join Shrewsbury Town for free, and players who were on the borderline of Ryan Lowe’s plan were allowed to go should they be able to be replaced.

Josh Earl left for Fleetwood Town earlier in the window, leaving North End very short of wing-backs. But the club have drastically improved that left hand-side, recruiting Irish international Robbie Brady on a free and Man United Under 23’s ‘Player of the Year’ for last campaign Álvaro Fernández on a season long loan.

Along with the two left wing-backs singing on the dotted line, North End also secured the permanent acquisitions of goalkeepers Freddie Woodman and David Cornell from Newcastle United and Peterborough United respectively, Ben Woodburn after his release from Liverpool, and Troy Parrott joined on a season-long loan from Tottenham Hotspur.

With more business reportedly being lined up with a right-wing back and a striker still high on the priority list, North End have recruited with quality over quantity for this season and it may well pay off.

With the quality of former fans favourite Callum Robinson still being heavily linked with a return to the North-West and Cameron Archer’s name not quite disappearing from the media just yet, North End still might have a few tricks up their sleeve before the window closes.

‘A generous start’:

In the Championship, there are no easy games. Preston of all teams know that having a generally quite poor record against teams in the bottom half of the division whilst always being a side with a surprise result in them against the top teams.

But with a mentality change since the arrival of the former Plymouth Argyle boss, North End should be fairly pleased with how the fixtures have played out in the early weeks.

With facing two of the three promoted sides in the first four league fixtures, the Lilywhites will be hoping to get off to a bright start, much better than last campaign after they was thrashed on the opening day 4-1 by Hull City at Deepdale.

“Is this year finally the year?”

For years Preston North End have flirted with the Sky Bet Championship play-offs but have always fallen short. In their first season under Alex Neil, they finished a point outside after Derby defeated Barnsley 4-1 on the final day to prevent the Lilywhites claiming sixth spot.

When football was paused as the national lockdown took place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, North End sat in sixth waiting for the season to resume, but they reacted badly to the return and again fell short.

Last year after the arrival of scouser Ryan Lowe, they showed glimpses of potential that they could sneak into the top six but in the end, a disastrous start under Frankie McAvoy all but ended the hope after a few poor results made the task out of reach.

But this year, with a new look side, fresh connection with the fan base who are hell-bent on helping Deepdale be a fortress and tough place to come, a first full campaign under an exciting manager, this could finally be the year Preston make it into those play-off spots.

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