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Lancashire rivals pin new year hopes on new bosses

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Paul Fletcher | 21:36 UK time, Wednesday, 29 December 2010

There is not much common ground between supporters of Lancashire rivals Burnley and Preston but they were united in their mutual disillusion on Tuesday afternoon.

The Clarets fans, desperate for an immediate return to the Premier League, saw their team outplayed as they suffered a 2-0 reverse against struggling Scunthorpe at Turf Moor. It was no better at Deepdale, where North End supporters watched their team surrender a 1-0 lead as they went down 3-1 against Championship relegation rivals Middlesbrough.

The final whistle at both grounds brought with it the sound of booing - and within 24 hours both Brian Laws at Burnley and then Preston boss Darren Ferguson had been sacked.

Let's start with Burnley. Laws was asked to stand down in a telephone conversation with chairman Barry Kilby, who is currently out of the country.

Laws was in charge at Turf Moor for less than a year. He was sacked by Sheffield Wednesday, then a struggling Championship side, on 13 December 2009 and walked into Burnley to become a Premier League boss for the first time on 13 January 2010

I said in a blog at the time that it was a great appointment for Laws. Not many managers land a Premier League job after a failure in the Championship. Kilby claimed to have been impressed by the former Burnley player's passion and demeanour, as well as his relative success on modest budgets at previous clubs Scunthorpe and Wednesday.

Brian LawsBurnley's patchy form under Laws was not good enough for chairman Barry Kilby. Photo: Getty

I have met Kilby a few times and believe him to be an honest and thoughtful man who clearly cares deeply about his hometown club. He is not the type to take a significant decision like this without some serious soul searching. After all, to sack Laws is to admit a failure of his own as much as the manager.

Laws could not keep Burnley in the Premier League but that was hardly unexpected. He could argue that his team had won three of their last six Championship fixtures but each victory was followed by defeat and, taking a broader perspective, Burnley have won just three of their last 10 matches.

They are only two points adrift of the top six but they are eight short of automatic promotion and 15 behind leaders QPR. And, to be frank, they are a side that lack the verve, self-belief and momentum that was generated under predecessor Owen Coyle.

You only have to look at the current position of Bolton - sixth in the Premier League - to understand that the hyperactive Coyle is a very good manager. He took the Clarets to the Premier League via the play-offs at the end of the 2008/09 season, during which the Lancashire club also enjoyed success in both the FA Cup and Carling Cup.

His team played a 4-3-3 system and made many friends with their ability to shock top-flight opponents. It was always going to be an extremely hard act to follow, particularly for a manager with no Premier League experience.

Some said at the time that the appointment of Laws was an admission by the club that they were heading straight back down to the Championship. That was unfair but there is no doubt that Kilby now faces a very important decision. His team are far from out of promotion contention and have 24 games left to reignite a campaign that has rarely looked convincing.

Of course, these things are relative and every sane Preston fan would happily swap league positions with Burnley.

North End started Tuesday two points from safety but after their reverse against Boro are now five points shy of the fourth from bottom club. And when you have won just five games from your 22 league fixtures, then five points is a very substantial margin.

I spoke to a North End season ticket holder earlier on Wednesday. He had accepted the inevitability of relegation. They have had the look of a doomed team for quite some time.

Preston have had some spectacular results this season - notably the 6-4 win at Leeds after trailing 4-1 - but they have won one of their last nine fixtures and have kept only three clean sheets in 22 Championship matches.

Several times in recent weeks I heard journalists ask Ferguson if he was the right man to manage North End. He always insisted that he was but I never heard him explain how he was going to turn around the fortunes of the club or eradicate the individual errors that he felt undermined his team's campaign.

Ferguson often said after a victory that he hoped his team had turned a corner. There was a slight hint of desperation about his words, as though he was powerless to alter the situation.

Darren FergusonFerguson has been powerless to halt Preston's slide towards League One. Photo: Getty

At no point did he give the impression that he knew his best starting XI and the recent loan arrivals of Danny Pugh and Michael Tonge from Stoke, as well as Leon Cort from Burnley and Ritchie de Laet from Manchester United, has not brought about an improvement in form.

Ferguson's dismissal comes exactly one year to the day that Alan Irvine was sacked as North End boss. Irvine, currently in charge of Sheffield Wednesday, was dismissed with his team 16th in the Championship table - a position that now seems beyond North End.

Ferguson arrived having guided Peterborough to back-to-back promotions but he was sacked just 16 games into his first campaign as a Championship manager at Posh, with the club bottom of the table and four points adrift of safety.

His appointment at Preston was a chance for the son of Manchester United manager Sir Alex to prove that he can cut it in the second tier. The facts suggest that he cannot, although, a little like Laws at Burnley, it could be argued that he took the right job at the wrong time.

No club has been in the Championship longer than Preston, who in a decade of second-tier football have twice reached the play-off final and spent far more time dreaming of the promised land of the Premier League than worrying about slipping into the third tier.

However, Ferguson's tenure coincided with a period of frugality at Deepdale. Trevor Hemmings, a local lad and extremely wealthy after a life-time of business success, had made up a financial shortfall for a considerable period of time in the form of loans.

This year, he took over at the club, taking them off the Alternative Investment Market and back into private ownership. He brought in veteran rugby league administrator Maurice Lindsay as chairman and a period of cost-cutting and belt-tightening has been the story of 2010.

Ferguson was given a degree of latitude to wheel and deal in the transfer market but the priority at the club was to loan out or, preferably, sell the high earners on the playing staff.

The manager had always shied away from seeking the help of his father in the transfer market at Posh, but there are currently three United players - De Laet, Joshua King and Matt James - on loan at Preston.

North End have enjoyed a fruitful relationship with United over the last 15 years - David Beckham made his league debut in a North End shirt - and it will be interesting to see whether that continues now that Preston have sacked Sir Alex's son.

Ferguson senior was in the stands at Deepdale as Preston won their last game under Darren, a 1-0 defeat of Roy Keane's Ipswich on 11 December. There were less than 10,000 at Deepdale for that fixture and the United manager must surely have noticed the apathy that has so disturbingly taken hold amongst the majority of the supporters this season. The atmosphere at Deepdale has often been desperately poor.

If Kilby at Burnley needs to find the right man to spark their promotion campaign, then the decision makers at Preston also face a crucial decision. If North End are to avoid relegation to League One they need to scrap for every available point and work out how to keep clean sheets - three all season simply isn't good enough.

Prior to Wednesday's double dismissal, I do not think many Burnley fans felt their team were heading up, nor many Preston supporters believed their teams were staying up.

Two very, very important decisions could change all of that.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    It's surely an unexpected consequence of the transfer window - if you are thinking of changing your manager, you want them out before the transfer window opens. Not only does it stop them wasting money on "their" players who might be surplus later, but it gives the maximum time for a replacement manager to use the window for buying their own choice of players.

    For cash-strapped clubs, though, surely the success of Brian McDermott at Reading has shown that to get the best out of existing players you need an in-house appointment, rather than a complete newcomer.

  • Comment number 2.

    Ferguson never really got PNE going and the sack was always likely and whilst Burnley appear to be doing ok in what is a very inconsistent league from what I read/heard Laws' style and tactics never won over the Turf Moor supporters.

    As you suggest neither sacking is a great surprise which sort of makes a change from the recent ones we've seen!

  • Comment number 3.

    "North End have enjoyed a fruitful relationship with United over the last 15 years - David Beckham made his league debut in a North End shirt - and it will be interesting to see whether that continues now that Preston have sacked Sir Alex's son."
    Cant see Sir Alex being anything but professional. If PNE is the best place for someone to go on loan, then that's where they will go.
    After all these years & some journalists still think he's a mug!
    When will they learn? or is it because he wont talk to the BBC?

  • Comment number 4.

    Posh didn't sack Ferguson, he had to leave as his head got to big and he thought he was to good for us, which has been proved false today.

    Get your facts right Paul, some might call it lazy journalism, especially considering the headline on the link you've posted says nothing about sacking.

    Hopefully getting the chop at PNE will get it into his head that he needs to ply his trade and earn reward rather than thinking that he can just waltz into a job on the back of his 'back to back' promotion credentials, which might I add were very well funded by our chairman, albeit with players bought by his predecessor.

    He got to big for his boots and couldn't wait for his feet to grow, hopefully this will be a big lesson for a certainly talented motivator, but less that great tactician.

  • Comment number 5.

    You say that the atmousphere at Deepdale was ofter " desperately poor ". Well I disagree and I think most people who go on the games will agree. I think the mojority of the 9000 fans were behind the team just not Fergie. So on the pitch we would do what ever we could to encourage the team. After the game we would boo Fergie till he went down the tunnel then clap the team.

  • Comment number 6.

    andie99uk, with the greatest respect in the world for all his achievements as a manager, SAF isn't exactly opposed to the odd decision based on personal vendetta...

  • Comment number 7.

    As a Liverpool fan I would like to strongly nominate Woy Hodgson for the two vacancies. We will even have a whip round and get him the busfair.

  • Comment number 8.

    It's a shame about Laws as to be fair most fans never gave him a chance, however it was the cheap option, the football had become dire, devoid of confidence and this is the best opportunity to get back in the Prem we're ever going to have. The next appointment is key and it needs to be given serious thought. Personally it would be Howe or McInnes for me.

  • Comment number 9.

    Ferguson may have been clueless , however Houdini would struggle with the lunatics behind the scenes at PNE.
    Mr Hemmings and his sidekick Mo Lindsay have a plan that involves him buying the club for a pittance at the expense of the other shareholders , and with some inane reasoning believe that you can reduce your wage bill but at the same time improve the team.

    One imagined when TH concocted his financial trickery to take the club private and purchase 100% of the club he had a master plan to invest in the club to get it to the Prem, where he could then sell it and make a bundle. Blackburn for £40m would have been the blueprint.

    Instead he takes the club over, reduces the wage bill by selling or giving away his best players and replaces them with loanees and kids from the youth team.
    Lindsay crows about how they are reducing overhead.
    The problem with that plan is ofcourse that they also rid themselves of every player that may be championship quality or better , Brown for St Ledger, Wallace for .... no one etc etc.
    Lo and behold we find ourselves bottom of the league , what a suprise.We quickly take on loan Hume, De Laet,Tonge,Pugh and Cort . Add to that James and King . We have more loan players in our squad than contract players and the wage bill is probably higher now than it was a year ago.

    You will ofcourse have noted that I have not mentioned Ferguson in this catalogue of disaster..... why you may ask!!!

    The deluded lad is poor, no doubt about it, however somehow he persuaded Mo and TH that he could walk on water, reduce the overhead and improve the team.

    From someone who employs many people I can confirm it is unbelievable what people will claim they can do to get a job.

    The fault lies, not with the applicants , but with the fools who believe that the impossible is possible.

    Until TH understands that you cannot trade down and survive in football, and puts his hand in his deep pockets and attempts to trade out of this mess PNE will spiral downwards with dwindling support and gate receipts.

    His next appointment could be big Sam, now that would be a statement. More likely to be Unsworth as no proper manager in there right mind would take on PNE with the current philosophy in place.

    Fergusons position was terminal I am afraid and not even his Dad could have done much about it in the circumstances.

  • Comment number 10.

    How the author of post 5 could disagree with the absence of atmosphere at Deepdale is beyond me. I was, quite frankly, embarrassed to be a North End fan the other night. Abject performance from a team resigned to relegation, in front of a crowd who've given up hope. After failing to put a few chances away, our bogeyman Leroy Lita showed us what a difference a proven goalscorer makes. Will Hume come back? Wouldn't blame him if not. I honestly think we've had it. Third Division next season, with crowds of 8K if we're lucky. I spoke to five lads who all gave up season tickets this year, and none are going this weekend. Sour times, indeed...

  • Comment number 11.

    I concur with NEXTOWNEROFPNE regarding the regime & culture. However, DF is culpable - it was his team and players that have arrived in this position.

    When it comes to racehorses Mr Hemmings buys quality and places them with quality trainers to yield quality results.

    Let's hope he takes a leaf out of his own "racehorse book" with PNE now his hands are firmly on the "reins!"

    The "ball" to use a tennis metaphor is in Mr Hemming's court and the whole of the greater Preston area including Leyland, Trevor's home town will be watching closely to see if he is passionate about PNE or is just after making another quick buck!

    Pardon the pun!

  • Comment number 12.

    Laws was never the right appointment for Burnley but getting rid of him now is simply silly. Remember two years ago they scraped into the playoffs by two points. It was hardly some barnstorming season long performance, in fact in terms of differnce between then and now the percentage would be negligable. They were a very average side who squeezed into the playoffs, there is always one. The chairman showed the limit of his ambition by hirirng a failed championship manager in the first place. Does he really have anyone better in mind now?

  • Comment number 13.

    It pains me to see posh fans mocking Darren Ferguson after his sacking from Preston North End . The way most of my fellow posh fans are going on you'd think he got us back to back relegations not back to back automatic promotions,but thats the nature of posh fans.Fickle.

    So it hasn't worked out at Preston.It happens.Its how he moves on from this thats important now. He's still a young manager, learning his trade.It would appear people seem to forget that.

    The job he did at London RD was amazing. Yes our chairman always backed him ,yes we did spend some money, but so did the likes of Huddersfield & leeds but they couldn't get promoted that season.

    George Boyd ,Aaron Mclean & Craig Mackail Smith may well have been in place at London rd before fergie arrived , but fergie was given the task of building a team around these guys and he did it brilliantly. Paul Coutts,Chris Whelpdale, Dean Keates,Chris Westwood,Charlie Lee were all brought to London rd by fergie for next to nothing and they all fitted in perfectly.

    Many people believed that Posh had a better team this season than what fergie had in league 1 2 years ago, but look at us! We can't keep a clean sheet for love nor money .( we kept 18 under ferguson in league 1 2 seasons ago) I'd be surprised if we keep 5 clean sheets in the league this season.I haven't even mentioned the team and work ethic fergie installed at london rd! It had never been better when under fergie!

    I am convinced that given the right job at the right time, Darren Ferguson will go a long way in football management.

    Burnley should give him a chance (and back him unlike preston did)

  • Comment number 14.

    DF Gone and not allowed time to actually add permanently to his loanee team , NEXTIE maybe you have a point because TH/DS getting rid of AI was to me and many others a shock , replacing with DF was to be our long term plan ONE YEAR on he's been sacked ! Logically on the face of it bottom of the league at Chrimbo he had to go , but contrary to Paul F we had improved I went to Cardiff and against Prem attack including Bellamey we did well and lost 2 points , v Boro no Hume no Cort and DF has problems again without two mainstays of recent form .
    Although I have to eat my words because I was in the "keep the faith camp " and unlike NEXTIE I have no major gripe with the owners , I did think DF would turn it round .
    DF did annoy me with persisting with Parkin and not giving players like Parry a go because IMHO Parkin is a novelty although posessing skill he is lumbering and especially at Cardiff where we could've exploited their desperation to equalise and nailed them !
    Anyway another chapter beckons , we do not want relegation NEXTIE/Daws and hopefully TH will dip in to his coffers ONCE more to save us and get Big Sam as the manager now NEXTIE that would be something wouldn't it , he was assistant once a move to manager yes , and what message would that give out !
    Up the Whites !

  • Comment number 15.

    Crow 4 , Got some sympathy with your last statement , because I was just telling my fellow expats last night , DF would never be sacked this season and one year is not enough time especially with the garden completely dug over and the shoots not having time to appear , panick has ensued ! DF was inexperienced but his philosophy good young local players and bought good young players Coutts, Treacy and Paul F he demonstrated how he was going to get out of our mess tried and Tested Championship players to aid defensive stability and it worked for the last 3 matches , please don't skim over the facts about one of you specialist subjects !
    Up the Whites

  • Comment number 16.

    You've had/got plenty of problems at deepdale, alot of them were out of darren fergusons hands.

    Preston needs rebuilding, and a season in league 1 isn't exactly the end of the world.

    Just look at Norwich City or Leicester City as proof, you can go down to league 1 and bounce back stronger than ever.

    You had the right man for the job in league 1 in Darren Ferguson.

    I'll continue to follow darrens managerial career with deep interest. That day at colchester when he won us promotion to the championship will live with me forever, he's the man to thank for that.

    He'll always have a supporter in me, i know what he is capable of. In fergie i trust!!!

  • Comment number 17.

    Posh fans are bitter at the way fergie left us, and so they put him down.

    Just read post 4 as a prime example.

  • Comment number 18.

    Good article. Laws' appointment underwhelmed the vast majority of Burnley fans and, as you rightly pointed out, we are desperate to get back up this season (parachute money being one reason, squad age being another). I believe there is the potential in the squad to at least finish in the Top Six. With one or two inspired signings and a manager who can fulfil that potential, Cardiff can still be caught.

  • Comment number 19.

    #3 "Cant see Sir Alex being anything but professional."

    Like he is with interviews for the BBC!!!

    Personally i cant see anyone in their right mind wanting the PNE job, surely Allardyce wont take it?

    Burnley will definitely have more pulling power, as they have some money and a quality squad.

    Having said that Kilby will probably hire Ferguson now, if his appointment of Laws is anything to go by!

  • Comment number 20.

    Brian Laws was a strange decision in the first place.

    Laws is a league 2/league 1 manager at best!!

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    Oh crap, the bots have worked out how to spam the BBC blogs, we're doomed!

    Anyway, I'm hoping both Burnley and Preston have the good decency to not try and poach Alan Knill away from us at Bury, we need him here for a good few more years to build on his excellent start.

    On a lighter note, Freddie Flintoff was talking about how he'd done his coaching badges and fancied a shot at management...Flintoff to Preston, anyone? *chuckle*

  • Comment number 23.

    Laws' appointment underwhelmed most Burnley fans and appeared to support the expectation of an immediate return to the Championship. However, to those fans of other clubs who can't understand why he should be sacked a few pointers:
    - The squad is significantly stronger and deeper than in 08/09 when we were promoted. However, the commitment and on field performances are no where near the standard set in that season.
    - We have lost 3 matches this season where we were 2-0 up.
    - The formations and tactical substitutions have, at times, defied footballing logic. E.g. Putting on Iwelumo after taking off the players who can deliver quality crosses. Or changing the striker when the midfield is being over-run.
    Burnley fans do not have ideas above their station by any means, and if this was the 08/09 season and we were 9th Laws would certainly still be in a job. However, we do recognise that with our stronger squad and greater financial strength we need to achieve as much as is possible this season, and under Laws's stewardship it had become clear this was not going to be the case. Exemplified by the quote on the LMA's website where Laws's ambition was to get Burnley into the play offs, not automatic promotion.
    As for what happens next, who knows, managerial appointments are at best a roll of the dice, all we can hope is that we get someone who demands more, has greater ambition, and uses the squad quality to it's maximum potential. I for one wouldn't like to choose knowing that so much rests on making the right decision. We fans have the luxury of being able to criticise without being judged by thousands of fans. Choose wisely Barry!

  • Comment number 24.

    3. At 11:10pm on 29 Dec 2010, andie99uk wrote:
    "North End have enjoyed a fruitful relationship with United over the last 15 years - David Beckham made his league debut in a North End shirt - and it will be interesting to see whether that continues now that Preston have sacked Sir Alex's son."
    Cant see Sir Alex being anything but professional. If PNE is the best place for someone to go on loan, then that's where they will go.
    After all these years & some journalists still think he's a mug!
    When will they learn? or is it because he wont talk to the BBC?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I agree with you. I don't think that Ferguson Senior would be bitter toward Preston. They are bottom of the league and Sir Alex knows the way football works.

  • Comment number 25.

    Regarding Darren Ferguson, it just goes to show that nepotism doesn't always work. The whole sport is riddled of cases where jobs are gotten on the basis of who you know. There are many thousands of excellent managers/coaches and players overlooked because of it.

  • Comment number 26.

    Paul,
    A journalisitc side issue for note:
    '...a 2-0 reverse against struggling Scunthorpe....'
    'North End started Tuesday two points from safety but after their reverse against Boro......'
    Does this simply mean they 'lost the match' in 20th Century English language?
    Unless you are auditioning for a job at ESPN or Soccer AM can you please show some respect for English football (soccer) journalism and not use seppo expressions when analysing our fine sport.
    People like myself log onto this website for intelligent commentary and I do not expect to see this creeping into the repertoire of the BBC and all that scribe under its name.

    Happy holidays y'all. Hi 5....

  • Comment number 27.

    Taggart is quite a bitter person though so I wouldn't bet against him bearing a grudge.

    As for atmosphere at Deepdale, been there a few times as i went to uni there, even when Oldham weren't playing and i don't think there ever has been an atmosphere of any sorts. Did the new stands kill it off?

    Everyone who has ever kicked a ball knew Laws was a bad appointment and only a matter of time. Coyle was going to be a hard act to follow for anyone though, like you said right job, wrong time.

  • Comment number 28.

    Now then - thanks for the comments so far.

    BigRoobyBooby (post 4) - you are quite correct, they called it a mutual decision. What does that mean exactly? Not sure Darren wanted to leave so early in his first season as a Championship manager - are you?

    Greatpnearethebest (post 5) - I cannot agree with you there. Think back to some of the great days for the club's fans in the first half of the previous decade and then think about Deepdale this season. Night and day. Season ticket sales are down to around the 6,000 mark, yet all four sides of the ground have been redeveloped, giving Deepdale a capacity comfortably over 20,000. And ask yourself this - when working out attendances this season do you reckon the club automatically includes for all the season ticket holders whether they turned up or not?

    NEXTOWNEROFPNE (post 9) - You ask alot of very interesting questions. Owner Trevor Hemmings has been virtually silent since taking over, which I'm told is the way he goes about his business. Do you think it would be helpful if he came out and explained exactly why he had taken over at the club - his short, medium and long-term aims and intentions?

    Lorderyall (post 26) - I'll slip a few more defeats and losses in there next time.

    To all the Burnley fans - there does not seem to be much argument about the sacking of Laws, a far less divisive decision that the dismissal of Ferguson. THE BIG QUESTION - who should Burnley appoint now? Would you be happy with Phil Brown?

    AND WHO FOR PNE? I'm reading Paul Hart, who saved Crystal Palace last season? Would you be happy to see him at Deepdale?

  • Comment number 29.

    Ill tell you what it means Paul (obviously the following are all in my incredibly accurate opinion) it means Ferguson had his head turned by Reading during the summer of 2009, our chairman denied them permission to speak to him and from that point onward Ferguson lost all interest in Posh. You could see it in the lacklustre signings that he made during our build up to that fateful CCC season, you could see it in his posture during matches, we should have let him go to Reading during that summer and reaped the compensation rewards that would have followed.

    He even admitted himself that his father told him to quit during that summer, Posh were used as a stepping stone in Ferguson's career, which is great for him, but as a Chairman of a football club the above situation would leave you in a position were your managers job is essentially untenable, in my opinion the press release didn't come out of London Road until a few days following the sacking due to the fact that 'Team Ferguson' were negotiating a deal with our chairman were by Ferguson didn't lose face and look like a rotter, hence the 'mutual termination' and not 'sacked for having his head turned and not being committed'. What annoys me most is that our club were the only club that would give the man a chance, he couldn't even get the managers job at Wrexham whilst he was there, we increased his stock and he did us wrong in my opinion, but then we all know there is no loyalty in the modern game.

    Its great that my compatriot C4E has such faith it human nature and still thinks great things of Ferguson, but I feel its blind, the man did a job on our club in order to further his own career. Don't get me wrong Ferguson motivated players very well and certainly installed a team ethic at London Road, he managed two of the best seasons seen at any football club in the last decade, but for me he turned it all sour, I could understand wanting to leave, but trying to manufacture your own way out isn't going to endear you to anyone.

  • Comment number 30.

    Paul Hart didn't save Palace last season, the players did!! For me, Paul Hart's whole demeanour is definitely not conducive to highly motivating a team's spirit. He has no presence or character...at least that's how he appears on camera.

  • Comment number 31.

    Preston have about 7/8 loan players? Reminds me of Norwich when we went down 2008/2009.
    Loan players are not the answer. 1 or 2 maybe who can add a bit of quality, but half a squads worth will not work. No passion for the club and will still pick up the pay packets. Get rid of the loan players at your club before its too late!

  • Comment number 32.

    No wonder Ferguson got sacked - after spending Xmas in Benidorm when he should have been managing his team, what else could he expect?

  • Comment number 33.

    In football things can change very fast. So as a Blackpool fan, I will look down on my neighbours and laugh my socks off. For now..... there but for the grace of God (or olly in our case)....

  • Comment number 34.

    First of all a whisper to Big Roobybooby - if you are going to attack the writer of the article in the way that you did then you should ensure that you at least write your submission correctly, otherwise it is better to stay quiet. You have written 'to big' and 'to good for us' when you should have written 'too' on both occasions!
    As a life-long North End supporter I have to say that I was most concerned at Ferguson's incredible clear-out at Deepdale at the end of the season when he got rid of around 12 senior players. This showed his total inexperience as many of those he let go were experienced Championship players. For example Sedgwick and Mellor were good, although not oustanding, members of the side and Sedgwick's workrate was phenomenal as he continually tracked back to assist right back Jones, who this season has looked vulnerable. Replacing those he let go with free transfers from other Championship clubs has proved a disaster and with 6/7 borrowed players coming and going there is no continuity in the side. The highly rated goalkeeper Lonergan has made numerous errors this season as the talk of a £2-4 millions transfer seems to have affected him, while the defence in front of him has leaked goals at an alarming rate and the midfield has no bite. Ferguson's tactics have to be questioned after he brought in the ball-winning Tonge on loan from Stoke and played him on the right wing!

  • Comment number 35.

    25. At 08:07am on 30 Dec 2010, selhurstboys wrote:
    Regarding Darren Ferguson, it just goes to show that nepotism doesn't always work. The whole sport is riddled of cases where jobs are gotten on the basis of who you know. There are many thousands of excellent managers/coaches and players overlooked because of it.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I think thats a bit unfair. It's hardly a case of nepotism that he became Preston manager. Darren Ferguson cut his teeth coaching with Wrexham, and then got two promotions with Peterborough before he got the Preston job. It's not as if someone has handed him a Premiership job because he is Sir Alex' son. He's been managing in the lower divisions.

  • Comment number 36.

    In 12 months DF has done some considerable damage to Preston North End however he is not alone in that and the problems go back further. Quite how we got ourselves into a situation were we had unpaid tax bills and winding up orders is beyond me. We were always pretty well run - low wages but decent honest players, sell the odd player to bring in funds but basically solvent. Then Derek Shaw and the other directors ( plus the support of Trevor Hemmings ) bet it all on red and it came up black. I like Alan Irvine as a coach and as a man however it was those signings he made that set us on the path to where we are now - poor players on inflated salaries with the inevitable consequence that existing players wanted more money. Sean St Ledger going to Middlesboro should have happened and he should have been told in no uncertain terms that he was not welcome back at Deepdale - nothing personal against Sean but we needed the money and by supporting Sean coming back that was the end for Irvine.

    The next part is the interesting bit - in came DF ( at the insistence of Trevor Hemmings by all accounts ) and made the fatal mistake of trying to do too much too soon - rumours of player unrest came out almost straightaway and he had made a massive problem for himself because footballers are only human and if you see your mate being treated shabbily it does not really encourage you - DF could have done nothing and we would have stayed up comfortably. He could then begin the rebuild in the summer with a bit more support from players and fans. From December 2009 onwards the club treated people like the club had never treated people before and for many supporters ( including me ) that was painful to watch because these people had been loyal and done their best generally.

    The events of the summer are beginning to look like, in the words of Fred Goodwin @ RBS "a drive by shooting" - lots of people lost money but only one still has an opportunity to recoup and that is Trevor Hemmings -I apreciate he put loans into the club however he ended up as the de facto sole owner by doing this and then took control when the financial problems became critical. As looks likely and we do get relegated with considerable debts would it actually have been beneficial, in the long term, to go into administration and come back with a better financial position ? I may be being harsh on TH however I dont see what he is trying to do with the club and I dont see how the debts to him can ever be repaid unless he sells the club - if he did that will he give the club any profits from a sale after his debts are cleared or is it a business transaction ?

    This season has been an unmitigated disaster and whilst you mention the Leeds game, in all honesty if Leeds had scored one more prior to us pulling one back it could have been 10 - in the same way if they had a vaguely competent keeper they would have won. The "Ricky Ponting" moment was Burnley away - a win there probably wouldn't have put us on a run or anything like that but by losing it shattered belief and the sheer panic in the last 10 minutes of a game if we were leading was frightening at times.

    Overall - it is the right decision however there are others who should take a long hard look at themselves. My choice for next manager would be Neil Macdonald - there is a connection with the club and we can get back to appointing good coaches which is what North End need.

  • Comment number 37.

    I'm glad to see the back of Mr Ferguson. From the day he arrived his team selections and the positions he used players in puzzled me.
    I've never seen North Ends defence looking so frail but I'm not surprised, Daivd Unsworth would stop a train with his head, but other aspects of his play seemed to be a bit lacking, and we have him coaching the team.
    Teams don't go from being a top 6 in the division side to one that's fighting relegation over night, poor managerial selections play a big part and the appointment of Paul Simpson a few years ago started it.
    The finacial situation started to deteriorate under the guidance of Mr Shaw, untill it reached the point of Trevor Hemmings having to bailing us out.
    What we need now is a manager who can achive things without massive budgets to play with.
    Big Sam did well at both Bolton and Blackburn with both clubs having limited money to spend, and I'm sure he must have plenty contacts to bring loan players in if needed.
    He can't make the situation worse because we're at rock bottom now.


  • Comment number 38.

    Maybe if Preston had actually employed Darren Ferguson rather than getting Michael McIntyre by mistake (see pic on blog) things would have worked out a little better for them...........

    On a serious note though Laws was a dead man walking in most peoples eyes from day one at Turf Moor.

  • Comment number 39.

    And make your mind up BBC I am either a new member or not!!!

  • Comment number 40.

    Paul,
    Love your blogs.
    Isn't it about time ownership of Football League clubs re-examined their entire management structure instead of the all-eggs-in-the-manager's-basket approach?
    Perhaps a little more like the General Manager/field manager-or-coach approach favoured in American sports?? As you can see some US-owned Prem clubs doing.
    In the absence of any steadying hand, Ferguson (and Strachan at 'Boro') have achieved about 75% player turnover while plunging in the Championship table.
    If such turnover is unsuccessful, which it is more often than not, it has cost the club a fortune and league position security; and, hence, likely another fortune to recover the situation.
    Ferguson was out of his depth, any club owner would be a fool to hire him.

  • Comment number 41.

    Would any Preston or Hull fans like Roy Hodgson? Go on we will chuck in Poulson and Konchesky for free!

  • Comment number 42.

    Whilst I feel that neither manager has been given a fair crack of the whip I agree with the sentiment that this is modern football and, love it or hate it, this is what is now exepcted.

    There are are also, as always, plenty of managers around both out of work and in situ who will be more than happy to take up the reigns at either one of these historic clubs.

    Sam Allardyce and Phil Brown spring instantly to mind due to their northern connections - particularly Big Sam who I feel is trying to do the rounds and manage every north west club before he's done.

    Younger managers are doing great jobs elsewhere though. Paul Dickov has got his managerial career off to a great start at Oldham. Keith Hill & Dave Flitcroft got Rochdale out of the basement after centuries of trying and although they are struggling at the moment, they do play some lovely football. Alan Knill at Bury is going to crop up on the higher eschelons radar sooner or later but for me the stand out young manager is Eddie Howe. What he has done at Bournemouth over the last 2 years is nothing short of amazing. He will manage at the top level one day, be assured of that. Preston or Burnley could benefit from being his stepping stone for 2 or 3 years.

  • Comment number 43.

    I would like Eddie Howe as the next manager at the Turf. He is young and hungry just like Coyle was. Whether he would move up North is another thing entirely.

  • Comment number 44.

    Burnley appointed the wrong manager. Laws never has really cut it as boss. Scunthorpe sacked hime and then reappointed him and then got promotion. Wow - and look how good Sucnny become after his departure - the physio took over and made them a Champioship side not mid liners in L1. His record at SW was shocking - I know there was not much doe but they never really set the division alite and was failing when he left. Burnley need some one who plays football and get the best out of the lieks of Cork and Eagles - who I don't know but I think Brown and Alladice are the wrong men.

    Ferguson - what has happened - flash in the pan or wong club. His record at Peterboro speaks for its self until they reached the championship but even then was that due to him not changing the squad and keeping faith with those who had given him success. In fact he must have done a good job cos the club is not exactly firing in L1. Preston have serious finacial probs but if you look at his team they are so inconsistent. Watching them earlier in the season they palyed some good stuff in patches but made so many silly mistakes. Is this the manager's fault or the players not taking responsibility? Preston now need a miracle to stay up and I think Alladice might be the man for them...

  • Comment number 45.

    As a Blackpool fan I think this is my best ever season. Enjoy league one PNE :)

  • Comment number 46.

    Re. post 35: Ok, nepotism may be a bit unfair but do you really think DF would have got the opportunities he's had if his dad wasn't Sir Alex?....many are not given the opportunity, especially players, and if you've got a dad, uncle, cousin or whatever in the game you'll certainly have more opportunity than most...it's the same in other walks of life too...we all do it...the point is though, there are potentially hundreds of perfectly adequate managers/coaches and players that won't make it on merit alone.

  • Comment number 47.

    Laws should never been appointed. Totally out of his depth in Championship and even more so in the Premier League.

    Tactically inept with the charisma of a plank.

  • Comment number 48.

    I'm a Villa follower and you could substitute Houllier for Ferguson and AV for PNE and it would read perfectly. With about 30 hours to the transfer window I am really concerned that all we will do is sell, possibly including Ashley Young and Curtis Davies (the latter at least well below worth and even more below what was paid).

    I am beginning to wonder about the Villa owner, is Houllier the sacrificial lamb, the well-paid lightning conductor to take the heat of the fans, while the owner shrugs it off? The tough part is not sacking GH, but who to replace him with and what will it all cost?

    I'd suggest GH for Burnley, but they couldn't afford him and I doubt he'd be any good there anyway.

  • Comment number 49.

    I'd recommend jimmy calderwood, formerly of Aberdeen, for either of these clubs. Excellent record at Aberdeen on a tiny budget, tactically astute and a good motivator too. I'm an Aberdeen fan and was disappointed when the board let him go but he'd do well with the better players available at either of these clubs!!

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    #3. At 11:10pm on 29 Dec 2010, andie99uk, thought SAF would be "professional"; #6. At 11:25pm on 29 Dec 2010, MistahJim opined that SAF was not above a bit of "personal vendetta".

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/dec/30/sir-alex-ferguson-darren-preston

    And the winner is ... MistahJim! (As Guardian reports MUFC recalling PNE loanees -- not on BBC yet that I can find.)

  • Comment number 52.

    JAMES AUTAR, didn't attack Mr Fletcher just mearly added context.

    Dont really understand the relevance of you spell checking, it has nothing to do with the article other than making you look pedantic.

  • Comment number 53.

    Just how childish and petulant has Alex Ferguson been by recalling the loan players? He might have won the lot but he is still nothing but a prima donna, spoilt brat acting like that.

  • Comment number 54.

    "Meanwhile Manchester United, managed by Ferguson's father Sir Alex, have recalled Joshua King and Ritchie de Laet from their respective loan deals at Deepdale.

    The duo were due to be available to Preston for their next two games but United have exercised a clause allowing them an early recall."

    Yeah Fergie wouldnt do anything spiteful hahaha. I touched on this is post #19. Fergie is a spiteful old chap, say goodbye to your relationship with United, Preston!

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    My God, is there no depth to which Alec Ferguson will decend? Has he got absolutely no sense of what it means to be a man? As soon as his son gets sacked Ferguson calls back the man yoo loanees in the classic "It's my ball, and you can't have it" routine. Alec Ferguson has won so much in the game, yet proves time and again to be one of the most negative and disruptive forces in the game. Personally I think of him as a running joke.

  • Comment number 57.

    Ok, so De Laet and King have been requisitioned by SAF, but what of Matt James? I've heard nothing about this young player for months. Why? WHat's happening with him? He's captain of the u-19 England squad. SHouldn't he be getting regular games? What did DF do with him? ANy answers?

  • Comment number 58.

    PNE must have been expecting Fergie to 'take his ball home' after they sacked his son. The only reason they had De Laet and King on loan in the first place seems to be because Darren Ferguson was in charge, so they don't really have a right to complain.

    Who knows, maybe this will be seen as a tactical master-stroke when De Laet has a stormer away at WBA on new years day...or maybe not

  • Comment number 59.

    tkrypton he has spent a lot of this season injured

  • Comment number 60.

    Really, when you think about it, I don't think it is a massive surprise that Sir Alex Ferguson recalled his loan duo. He really isn't the type to take slights against his family lying down. I feel sorry for the players more than anything - likes pawns in someone else's battle. Don't suppose they'll get a game now this weekend.

    David Unsworth and Stuary Gray in temporary charge at PNE and Burnley. Pleased?

    By the way, Happy New Year to you all.

  • Comment number 61.

    Fergusson really has not worked at Preston since his amazing run at Peterborough, where he was probably unlucky to be sacked.

    Strange really Burnley sacking their manager, I know they have not been playing well but considering they were 9th and when you look at the teams above them, apart from arguably Coventry and Watford, who have done well with what they have, I do not really see what they are expecting as their squad is incomparable to QPR, Swansea, Cardiff, Leeds, Norwich and Reading.

  • Comment number 62.

    The reason why Burnley's massively under-achieving squad is only 9th is that most of the players never wanted Laws in the first place and had no respect for his managerial ability.

    His six signings, costing about £6 million, have done little to improve the squad and have arguably weakened it. Danny Fox (£1.8 million), Leon Cort (£1.5 million), Ross Wallace (£1 million), Lee Grant (£750,000), Dean Marney (£500,000) and Chris Iwelumo (£500,000).

    Laws is a disaster in the transfer market. How much would Burnley recoup for the above six players. Only half what Laws paid at the very most and they are all on lengthy contracts with above average Championship wages.

  • Comment number 63.

    3. At 11:10pm on 29 Dec 2010, andie99uk wrote:
    "North End have enjoyed a fruitful relationship with United over the last 15 years - David Beckham made his league debut in a North End shirt - and it will be interesting to see whether that continues now that Preston have sacked Sir Alex's son."
    Cant see Sir Alex being anything but professional. If PNE is the best place for someone to go on loan, then that's where they will go.
    After all these years & some journalists still think he's a mug!
    When will they learn? or is it because he wont talk to the BBC"

    Well, Andie, looks like Ferguson has indeed proved that blood is thicker than professionalism, doesn' t it ?

  • Comment number 64.

    As a Wednesday fan the article makes interesting reading. We suffered the rubbish Laws put out and but for the grace of god could have ended up with DF. As it happened Mr Irvine leaving PNE was our blessing.

    Time and time again Laws showed he has little tactical knowledge and has one very basic game plan. If that doesn't work he has no plan B. His signings are also dubious at best. There were very few Wednesday fans sad to see him go and most would blame him for our relegation rather than Irvine.
    I genuinely couldn't believe he got sacked by SWFC when we were in the bottom three and walked into a PL job.

    As for Ferguson Jnr - PNE's gain was very much our benefit. I'd have Mr Irvine over DF any day of the week. Ferguson only did well at the Posh because he had money to spend soon as he got to the Championship and the Man Utd loan players had less impact and he didn't have the money to splash, his inexperience showed.

  • Comment number 65.

    I see Tony Pulis has suddenly decided to recall Tonge and Pugh, leaving us right in the mire with a threadbare squad. A coincidence that he and Ferguson Sr are good mates? Nope...thought not. Petulant, disgraceful behaviour. Come on, Aresenal, City, Spurs and Chelsea. I'm now a United-hater again.

  • Comment number 66.

    Paul, re #60 - granted it's not a massive surprise that Alex Ferguson has done this, but considering his standing in the game I would have expected him to act with a bit more professionalism. Not only has he made himself look like a brat, he's made his son look terrible in the process - I'm sure Darren can fight his own battles. Surely it could be argued that this is a case of bringing the game into disrepute - recalling players not for PROFESSIONAL reasons (i.e going into the first team, back-up etc), but for PERSONAL reasons because his son was sacked. I agree it's a huge shame that young players who were enjoying playing first-team football for us have been used as pawns.

    Considering Darren Ferguson's failings at our club (I agree his hands have been tied financially somewhat but results don't lie) I can't agree that there has been a 'slight' to Darren Ferguson at all. There has been anti-Ferguson chants in certain areas of the ground for months, and following the defeat to Hull I fully expected him to be relieved of his duties. Popular rumour is that Alex Ferguson's links to Trevor Hemmings was the only reason he lasted this long, and I'm inclined to agree. Indeed, I've seen it reported that Hemmings spoke to Alex Ferguson twice before making the decision to sack Darren, and that he has had to 'sacrifice' his friendship for the good of our club. Darren Ferguson has been treated with nothing but respect from the club hierarchy.

    I bear no malice to Darren Ferguson and wish him well in the future. I do, however, bear malice towards Alex Ferguson for recalling the loanees, when he knows all too well how precarious our current predicament is. Along with the Stoke boys going back we've now lost 4 of our starting 11, and have 2 games in 3 days.

    Of course, we shouldn't build a squad with loanees for this reason, but having them for the next 2 games (as was intended) would have allowed us to get through to the transfer window relatively unaffected. Thanks, 'Sir' Alex. Such a great historical connection between 2 clubs is now in tatters. Bobby Charlton, Nobby Stiles, Tommy Docherty...

    As for Unsworth, we can't do anything other than offer him our full support. I predict the biggest and noisiest crowd all season tomorrow. We all know how assistants have done at Deepdale (think Peters, Moyes, Davies.....) so it's time to believe in the club and get right behind it.

    Come on whites!

  • Comment number 67.

    R.E. Comment 3 -
    "North End have enjoyed a fruitful relationship with United over the last 15 years - David Beckham made his league debut in a North End shirt - and it will be interesting to see whether that continues now that Preston have sacked Sir Alex's son."
    Cant see Sir Alex being anything but professional. If PNE is the best place for someone to go on loan, then that's where they will go.
    After all these years & some journalists still think he's a mug!
    When will they learn? or is it because he wont talk to the BBC?

    Have you heard that fergie has now called all his players on loan at PNE back to old trafford asap, No toys out the pram there then, the guy is such a class act :)

  • Comment number 68.

    Quite what Preston expected of Ferguson this season I'm not sure. They were a poor side last year and slashed £3m from their wage bill in the summer which meant they were getting rid of players like Ross Wallace who they should have been building a team around. They're doomed.

    Burnley have got everything they deserved. They were in with a fighting chance of staying up last season when Coyle left, and even if they did come down its vital to get back up ASAP West Brom style before the parachute payments run out or risk a trip into League One as Sheff Wed, Forest, Leeds, QPR, Norwich, Southampton and others have all found after relegation from the Premiership. To appoint Laws, who did rock all at Sheff Wed and built a side to be relegated, smacked of a cheap and easy option. They should have moved heaven and earth to get O'Driscoll from Doncaster and unless somebody comes in and turns it all round and gets them up this season they'll pay for this for years to come.

  • Comment number 69.

    NEXTOWNEROFPNE is spot on. Full marks for honesty. Its just a shame that the two main protagonists involved with North End are completely oblivious to any footballing common sense.

  • Comment number 70.

    preston is sure to get relegated,burnley will not bounce back to premiership .............even under new managers.chairman have to be patient,and give time to managers to build up good team

  • Comment number 71.

    I for one am gutted that Ferguson has been sacked. Am I the only one who thinks he did a marvellous job at Deepdale, bar the unexpetced win at Leeds?

    Could the PNE board not have persevered with him until relgation was confirmed?

    As Blackpool soar in The Premiership and Preston travel to Dagenham, life seems so great.

    Poor 'ickle Preston.

    We are superior!

  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 73.

    As a Blackpool supporter I really feel sorry for what is happening at your Club at the moment because being an old gitter I can remember games when Tom Finney And Sir Stanley Mattehews played against each other-but some of your supporters have been so arrogant when we were struggling and probably will in the future, please learn a lesson.

  • Comment number 74.

    #3 I find it fascinating that after all these years Alex Ferguson is still seen as a role model proffesional! We all know he's the pettiest manager on the planet. He couldnt care less about the fate of Preston, just of his own son. There should be a law in the game forbidding Dads to help theyre son's in such a way. Chairmans will now hire Darren Ferguson on the basis that he can get them a load of talents from man united, its verging on ridiculous

  • Comment number 75.

    @JackQPR
    Oi! Hands off O'Driscoll - he's ours an' we're keeping him!

    RTID.

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    I think some fans are being a bit harsh on Laws, especially Wednesday fans. I didn't hear Wednesday fans criticising Laws when he got Wednesday to 9th. He also had a very big job of keeping Wednesday up, after the mess Sturrock left them in. I also seem to remember a few victories over the Blunts, when he was in charge.

    Granted, he left Wednesday in pretty much the same scenario he found them in. But he had to work on a shoestring budget. I also think people are being very unfair with regards to his record with Scunny. He got Scunny promoted from League 2 and then set the wheels in motion for Nigel Adkins to take over and get them promoted to the Championship. As a Forest fan, I remember Laws' Scunny side beating us not once, but twice. A 4-0 defeat for us at our place, is still in mind.

    I'll accept, he should never have got the Burnley job and you always knew it was doomed from the start. He wasn't even first choice; O'Driscoll was. So it did take me by surprise when he got the Burnley job.

    As for Fergie, he did a good job with Peterborough and I was very surprised when he got the bullet. How well did they expect to be doing, with a pretty much League 2 side? Although I understand it was more to do with his commitment to the club, than results. Admittedly, he had money to spend at Posh, but you still have to spend it wisely and manage those players. As a Forest fan, I know very well that money does not guarantee success. In terms of Preston, he's not really been given any support, and the board seem content to sell all their best players, despite being in a relegation battle. How do they expect to stay up, now they have sold Parkin? Where will the goals come from? Unfortunately, football is a results business and with Preston bottom, I dont think Fergie can complain. Infact, didnt he say he deserved to be sacked, shortly before he was? As for Fergie Snr, I think it is very very petty that he has recalled 3 loan players. Yes, Preston have sacked his son, but they had good reason - they are bottom and getting further from safety. I could kinda understand if they'd sacked him for some personal matter, but they had just cause. It is also amazing how his best buddy, Pulis, has now recalled his players. Fergie has probably promised him a player, if he recalls them. It is very very petty, and I feel for Preston. Brown has got a very difficult job on his hands.

  • Comment number 78.

    I tell you what;

    I think he should never have got the Burnley job and you always knew it was doomed from the start, that for sure!

    He wasn't even first choice; O'Driscoll was. So it did take me by surprise when he got the Burnley job.

    As for Fergie, he did a good job with Peterborough and I was very surprised when he got the bullet. How well did they expect to be doing, with a pretty much League 2 side?

    Although I understand it was more to do with his commitment to the club, than results. Admittedly, he had money to spend at Posh,

    but you still have to spend it wisely and manage those players. As a Forest fan, I know very well that money does not guarantee success. In terms of Preston, he's not really been given any support, and the board seem content to sell all their best players, despite being in a relegation battle. How do they expect to stay up, now they have sold Parkin? Where will the goals come from? Unfortunately, football is a results business and with Preston bottom, I dont think Fergie can complain.

    Infact, didnt he say he deserved to be sacked, shortly before he was? As for Fergie Snr, I think it is very very petty that he has recalled 3 loan players. Yes, [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]have sacked his son, but they had good reason - they are bottom and getting further from safety. I could kinda understand if they'd sacked him for some personal matter, but they had just cause. It is also amazing how his best buddy, Pulis, has now recalled his players.

    Fergie has probably promised him a player, if he recalls them. It is very very petty, and I feel for Preston. Brown has got a very difficult job on his hands.

 

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