BBC BLOGS - Paul Fletcher
« Previous | Main | Next »

Preston too hasty to sack Irvine

Post categories:

Paul Fletcher | 20:09 UK time, Tuesday, 29 December 2009

I almost crashed the car when I heard on the radio that Preston had sacked manager Alan Irvine.

Striker Neil Mellor said of the news: "I'm in a state of shock, as are all of the players that I have spoken to. It comes as a major surprise and I think we're all disappointed."

Preston's local newspaper, the Lancashire Evening Post, reported that their North End correspondent spent 30 minutes talking on the phone to Irvine on Tuesday morning without detecting the slightest hint of what was to follow.

The sacking just seems so out of kilter for a club that has become a watchword for common sense; one that has managed to consistently punch above its weight in the Championship season after season precisely because it has avoided the sort of rash short-term decision-making that has undermined so many other clubs.

irvine_getty595.jpgIrvine's Preston are eight points away from a play-off place

I have always had a lot of respect for chairman Derek Shaw, who has run a tight ship at Deepdale. He is often criticised by supporters for lacking the ambition to take the club into the Premier League and of failing to invest in the playing squad the amount necessary to end what will soon be a 50-year absence from top-flight football.

Yet he has a decent track record of appointing managers - David Moyes, Craig Brown, Billy Davies, Paul Simpson and Irvine all impressing to lesser or greater extents - and has tried to balance the delicate relationship between the bottom line and the need to spend increasingly untenable figures on new signings.

Moyes and Davies both left of their own accord, while the decisions to sack Brown and Simpson were hardly surprising given the long-term loss of form the team suffered under their stewardship.

I think the dismissal of Irvine is a different case - and I'd like to think that there must be more to it than meets the eye because otherwise it must surely be viewed as uncharacteristically rash.

Yet Shaw has cited the recent run of form, with just one win from North End's last 10 Championship fixtures as the reason behind the decision, which was reached at a board meeting on Tuesday.

There is no doubt that Preston's form has dipped alarmingly, with the team slipping from the thick of the play-off positions to 16th in the table, now as close to the drop as they are to the big time.

I was at their 3-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest on 19 December and it was a remarkably one-sided affair, with the points secure for the high-flying home side - now managed by Davies - before the icy temperatures had time to numb the ends of my fingers.

But pointing to recent form does not wash with me. A scan at the team's recent results makes me think of a comment Irvine made when I interviewed him on the eve of his first anniversary in charge in November 2008.

The Scot, who had been assistant to Moyes at Everton prior to his move to Deepdale, told me that the margins separating success and failure in the Championship were so fine that his team could have lost virtually every game they had won that season and vice- versa.

Now take a look at Preston's recent run of form. OK, it has been poor in terms of points gained (seven from the last 30) and goals scored (six in the last 10 games) - but in that period there have only been three games in which the there has been more than one goal between North End and their opponents. And one of those was North End's 2-0 victory over Plymouth.

Irvine's team have not been taking a hiding week-in, week-out.The margins are fine and his side have been on the wrong side of them - but sufficient reason to sack him? I don't think so.

"He was massively popular," added Mellor. "He had the respect of the whole dressing- room and we were working hard for him to get the results we could for him.

"It's a tough division but a couple of wins would shoot us back up the table."

North End have hit a dip in form and confidence has suffered but, crucially, Irvine was being expected to keep Preston in contention for a play-off spot with a reduced squad.

He lost long-serving midfielder Paul McKenna in the summer and key defender Sean St Ledger shortly after the season started, although the defender is now back at Deepdale after his loan move to Boro expired. Ally the loss of St Ledger to the injury suffered by Youl Mawene in late November and the heart had been ripped out of the centre of Preston's defence.

Irvine paid £400,000 for Ipswich midfielder Velice Shumulikoski in the summer and also brought Cardiff winger Paul Parry to the club - and it could be argued that neither has made a significant impact.

Yet there is no doubt that North End are essentially a selling club and Irvine did not have the funds available to mount the sort of ambitious spending spree that, for example, Davies undertook at Forest.

mellor.jpgMellor (r) was surprised by Irvine's sacking

Irvine brought in Ross Wallace on loan last season and eventually managed to sign permanently the Scottish winger, who is one of the very few truly inspirational players at Deepdale. The recent loan signing of Michael Tonge has been a success and yet North End cannot pay the wages to make his deal permanent.

I have heard it said that Irvine got it wrong far too often with his selection but he is a manager who was thorough in his preparation - he knew he had to be to compensate for North End's financial shortcomings.

Irvine has always come across as a sensible, knowledgeable and dignified man who worked extremely hard. A lot of what he said made sense and he had enough experience in football to neither become carried away by success nor overly perturbed by defeat.

It took him a long time after he took over from Simpson in November 2007 to change the momentum at Deepdale as the team lost seven of his first 10 games in charge and slumped to the bottom of the table.

But he eventually kept the team in the division and reached the play-offs last season before losing to Sheffield United over two legs in the semi-finals.

His assured management brought West Brom calling during the summer and saw him linked with Middlesbrough after Gareth Southgate was dismissed.

Irvine turned down the Baggies but might be regretting his decision now and I cannot help but think that someone so highly rated just a few months ago has not suddenly become a bad manager.

It would be wrong to point the finger squarely at Irvine for the problems at Preston.

The redevelopment of Deepdale is now complete but the ground is often half full, with attendances often between 12,000-13,000. There is a sparse, slightly hollow feel to home fixtures, far removed from the tight atmosphere of the old Town End.

The club operates at a loss and recent annual reports are testimony to the generosity of ultra-wealthy supporter Trevor Hemmings through his company Guild Ventures Limited in ensuring PNE remains on an even keel.

Set against this are the expectations of a supporter base that has been treated regularly through the Noughties to Championship play-off campaigns, all of which have ended in failure.

No club has been in the second tier longer and a largely successful decade has inflated the notion of what represents success to the extent that it has outstripped the obvious financial reality.

Shaw now has the task of appointing a new manager and I would not be surprised if he once again makes a shrewd decision.

In many respects North End remains an attractive proposition for an ambitious young manager, with Darren Ferguson one name already mentioned.

But is replacing Irvine as manager really the answer to the club's problems?


  • Comment number 1.

    Yet another chairman makes a rash decision, I have no idea who else of his calibre they would get in given their lack of finances.

    I wonder if they'll go for Jim Gannon now Motherwell have relived him of his duties.

    Failing that they can have Gordon Strachan and we'll gladly have Irvine.

  • Comment number 2.

    i am a leicester city fan and i think alan irvine is a great manager and when i heard on sky sports news that he was sack i was shocked but you got a better caretaked now in rob kelly he kept leicester up couple of seasons ago

  • Comment number 3.

    Excellent blog Mr Fletcher. I for one hope he goes back to Everton. I doubt it will happen now, but we could do with someone like him back there. I would also love to see Darren Ferguson back in a job, and i reckon PNE would be the perfect place for him.

  • Comment number 4.

    Goodness me
    Ferguson, Southgate, Laws just to name but 3 but now Irvine, its becoming a big pathetic isnt it?
    Cant a manager just have a whole season to sort the team out?
    I know the teams want instant success but on a limited budget? Thats a joke.
    Look at Middlesbrough, no need to sack Southgate and look whats happened under Strachan, out of the play-offs looking for anything.
    I think if this keeps happening, Coleman at Coventry will be the next to go regardless of whether they are midtable or near relegation!

  • Comment number 5.

    As a Preston exile I still follow the club with interest and am very surprised that he had not been given more time to remedy the recent dip in form.

    However if you look at the playing staff his signings policy has been somewhat different than that of previous managers in that he has brought in what he himself described as players proven at Championship level. Given the financial constraints and the need for the club to sell players in order to survive this policy has moved away from that adopted by previous managers who signed promising young players that the club was able to develop and then sell at a good price (most notably Nugent and St Ledger in recent times, althoughn the situation vis a vis the latter seems very strange and confusing).

    Unfortunately there is no one among the players signed by Irvine who fits into that category. When you take this into account, along with the fact that the "youth system" has produced hardly anyone in the past few years, as already remarked in an earlier blog about the appointment of David Unsworth, there is a real lack of assets at the club and perhaps the board was becoming increasingly alarmed for the future now that the prospect of the Play offs has gone almost out of sight this season.

    So - who is available who might address the problem? The obvious person for me would be Jim Gannon, who is currently available and who seems to have a terrific record in developing and using young players with significant success, both at Stockport and more recently at Motherwell. However, based on the blog about him on this week's BBC website, following his departure from Motherwell, he could be a fairly high risk option.

    Unless the board can pull something out of the hat though the club could be at a crossroads and after a long period of punching above its weight a real battle against relegation could be on the cards.

  • Comment number 6.

    If I were Stephen Thompson, Dundee United chairman, I would get Alan Irvine into the Tannadice hotseat as quick as possible. We need a great manager to fill Craig Levein's shoes.

  • Comment number 7.

    PNE are my second team and I'm just willing them to come up with the magic that will launch them back to the top flight where they belong, in the name of football itself.

    There is only one non-Premiership manager than stands out to me in the whole football league, who is capable of doing something with nothing. And even he hasn't truly proved that he can win big things other than avoid relegation against all odds. Operating in such a tight financial environment with discipline that originates from Harry Redknapp and his faithful follower Kevin Bond, this manager probably wouldn't take the job if offered to him anyway, due to the very reasons he would be suitable - his loyalty and determination. He is of course Bournemouth's Eddie Howe, the youngest manager in the entire league. Perhaps the wrong time to tempt him too, as he is in the middle of a mission down there.

    I honestly can't see that anyone would suit the role really, Irvine had time to right the wrongs and there was no need to give him the boot without any Man City style demands being placed up on his head.

    With Liverpool being my first team, and having waited almost 20 years for what we want to achieve, I understand patience. But perhaps Derek Shaw has decided that 50 years for him is just too much. Perhaps PNE of all the clubs, have the right to demand success now.

  • Comment number 8.

    I am gutted to see Alan Irvine got the sack as a Footballing fan after Magilton Laws Southgate are just three to have lost there jobs in the championship.

    Laws for me would be a good option but i wouldnt write off ferguson who i forgot about before reading this.

    But as a proud Doncaster Rovers supporter we could be playing them at the perfect time on January the 9th but i do wish Preston all good fortune other than that game

  • Comment number 9.

    "I have always had a lot of respect for chairman Derek Shaw, who has run a tight ship at Deepdale."
    Derek Shaw is not popular in Preston. Under his tenure, Preston has become well-known as a selling club. If he had any ambition, he would keep hold of his players for that extra year to push the club forward. Instead, he sells any talent at the first opportunity. Having interviewed him for eight years or so, he comes across as a nice guy, but his logic seems to leave a lot to be desired. Look at the talent he's sold without capitalising on any of it. When the likes of Manchester United sell Cristiano Ronaldo, it's after several years of success for a phenomenal fee - Shaw gives his big names so little time to settle before selling them off, they never achieve their true potential.
    It's sad.
    And I'm a Blackpool fan. I should really be rubbing my hands with glee.

  • Comment number 10.

    Great Blog Paul,

    You've basically outlined all the reasons us Preston fans ourselves are bemused about the sacking of a relatively popular manager.

    I was at the game yesterday at sheffield united and yet again we lost thanks to a flukey goal that went straight in from a free kick and definately deserved a point. we had chris burke score a screamer against us for cardiff, clarke for blackpool score a screamer durin this bad patch. But there was no real booing (as i saw when i watched bolton tnite) and no one there even muttering about a change of manager just a change of strike force.

    Utter besmusement and huge disappointment amongst all North End fans i know when we heard it tday. This wasnt a supporter driven thing it was a board only decision of which recent cases such as laws, southgate and rodgers cant claim to be. Somethin strange is goin on at my club and i dnt like it. Time to go MR SHAW!!!!!

  • Comment number 11.

    I don't hold the same contempt for Preston over this as I did for Man City. Good luck to both him and the club but I think preston will regret it.

  • Comment number 12.

    I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I saw Irvine had been sacked.

    I'm an Ipswich fan and it was well documented it took us 15 games to win our first game. PNE chairman should look at were PNE when Irvine took over, If I remember correctly there were either just in the relegation places, Suffering from a play-off/Nugent sell off hangover, Irvine took a while to find his feet but he found them.

    From what I saw when ever PNE came to Portman Road, The team was always hard to beat, Well organised some half decent target men in Parkin & Mellor. No-one ever exepected an easy game against PNE I think I speak for all fans of any team in the Championship.

    Still I suppose the PNE chairman will stand by his decision but if he is lurking on this blog, One name for you, George Burley.

    Perfect for the shoe-string budget that PNE have, Did wonders with Ipswich & Derby. I wish all the best to PNE fans in what at the moment may look like a bleak 2010.

  • Comment number 13.

    Irvine being sacked shows PNE have lost the plot and any window of opportunity for a season or two in the PL (and lets not forget how close they have come on a number of occasions) is closed. The football gods could reward PNE for their short-termism in the same way they are rewarding Peterborough, a return to the third tier of English football.

  • Comment number 14.

    Bizarre decision. My understanding was that Irvine was a good manager, and that he was doing all he could with the team and his resources.

    I think Dundee Utd should grab him, personally.

  • Comment number 15.

    Chris Dixon (post 9) - I didn't say Derek Shaw was popular, just that I think that he has more or less run the club in a sensible fashion, avoiding rash knee-jerk decisions. You say you are a Blackpool fan - so you should know what I am talking about with some of the problems at Bloomfield Road over the last decade or so.

    A lot of North End fans don't like Shaw - there were cries of 'Shaw Out' at the Forest game and he is accused of being a small-town operator who fails to think big. I understand their point but what is he supposed to do? Magic money out of think air. Not so long ago he tried to step aside but I do not recall too many investors coming forward.

  • Comment number 16.

    A very interesting article on some surprising news. As a Preston season ticket holder of some years this is the first time I have known a manager be sacked at Deepdale before there is popular demand for it. In fact the opinion is so against this decision that Derek may well get a rough ride over the coming days and especially on Saturday ( where he may have just added 500 on the gate to boo him ! )
    Very odd times at Deepdale currently and this is another intriguing part to it - the Boxing day on / off debacle, St Ledger back after it being a "done" deal with M'boro, no explanation about how St Ledger being back affects the finances, strong rumours of players to be sold in January ( Andy Lonergan in particular ).
    Something more is happening at Deepdale than we are being told and the team selection for Saturday I think will give a strong indication - If Lonergan, St Ledger and Wallace all start then I feel we may be getting some new investment possibly from Mr Hemmings ? however if all three are omitted then I fear bad times ahead because they will have been "rested" to avoid being cup tied and that would signal a very long winter.
    I have to say for all the stick Derek Shaw gets he has done an exceptional job on very ordinary attendances / income. I think the big problem is that for many fans under the age of about 23 they have known nothing but success ( relative ) however I still remember my early years when that involved 1.30 kick offs because we could not afford to get our floodlights fixed and we finished 91st out of 92 - I also remember many fans chanting for Leeming / Woodhouse Out ( the then Board ) at the time when history has shown it was their own personal money that kept the club afloat. I think history will judge Derek Shaw in a more favourable light than many fans view him now however I do think he may just have got this one wrong.

  • Comment number 17.

    Absolutely ridiculous decision by Derek Shaw. Football clubs just don't give managers enough time to mould teams together anymore. If every team got rid of their managers after a few months then we wouldn't have seen the sheer class Alex Ferguson has produced season after season. I think its time that Chairmen and other members of the clubs board give managers who are struggling a little bit more time. Gareth Southgate, Mark Hughes, Scolari............ the list goes on!!!!

  • Comment number 18.

    SB PRESTON - I had a conversation with Steve Claridge recently during which he described Preston as a "one in four" club.

    I was a touch confused by this comment but he explained that given the size of the club - gates, transfer budget etc - fans should expect to reach the play-offs roughly once every four years.

    North End have obviously done much better than this and thus the younger fans you talk about have unrealistic expectations.

    I suppose it doesn't really help when Burnley did so well last season and Blackpool are having a brilliant time under Ian Holloway.

  • Comment number 19.

    It would seem that beggars can indeed be choosers.
    The club sells the best third of the squad every season and Irvine still got us into the play-offs.

    To sack him at this stage of the season with no obvious replacement and no sign of further investment is patently ludicrous. The player's comments say it all.

    It seems we must all suffer at the hands of Derek Shaw's aspirations of mediocrity.

    Excellent blog, by the way

  • Comment number 20.

    Paul - I think you made the comment in your blog there are incredibly fine margins in the Championship between success and failure however I do think that Irvine lost his nerve slightly in the last few weeks by being too defensive minded.You are right the Burnley situation in particular has hit some fans hard - Nugent, Mears and critically Alexander are all ex North Enders who are now playing for Burnley. Billy Davies taking Derby up ( and who would bet against McKenna and BD going up this year ) also hurt many fans. In our heart of hearts every North End fan will tell you our moment was v West Ham in the play off final a few years ago - that was the right team, right manager and right time for us. However even going back to the play off last season I think St Ledger hit the post at 1-0 in the home leg - if that went in it is a different game / outcome ! However the city does not support the team - full houses for the play off and Liverpool last year but basically we currently have a hardcore of @ 9,000 and the problem is the "casuals" are reducing week after week. Much is made of the clubs inability to bring supporters in however I am not sure what else they could do. In many ways I think our attendances and support would be bigger if we had a couple of relegations and promotions - we are, I am afraid, a slightly dull Championship club playing the same sides each year.

  • Comment number 21.

    mr fletcher, is losing about £180,000 / week running a tight ship and applying common sense?? north end have tried to buy their way into the promised land of the premiership and repeatedly failed, eight times i believe. being a blackpool fan i must admit to being a bit surprised by irvine's sacking but thats football. up the pool..!!

  • Comment number 22.

    I am absolutely gutted that this has happened. I am a PNE season ticket holder and have been for the past 10 years and despite missing out on several chances of top flight football, nothing has felt as bad as this. It just isn't right.
    I'm not sure what else AI could have done differently? He is limited by a relatively weak squad to choose from along with the size of the squad being a problem. Our problem is a lack of real quality up front and real limitations in a midfield that has no option out wide. Out of form players have cost this superb manager his job and in the long term, i fear, will have cost our club far more.
    Shaw has made a very poor decision and no matter who he gives the job to, without an improvement in the playing staff, we are in trouble this season. Of course our real issues lie with the terrible attendances as outlined by PF. We reach the play-offs and 20,000 want a ticket. It's not even like we are well supported when we do well. Gates barely reach 14-15k when we were in the top 3 in previous seasons. For those shouting the odds about us being a selling club...we have to be or we would be financially ruined. We can't expect TH to bail us out all the time and i'm sure that the sale of our most valuable assets are done only as a matter of necessesity, to balance the books. If people don't like it, they should pay to sit in a seat and help out the club. If they already do, don't be so blinkered about the current situation the club is in.
    PF has written superbly on this and has captured the sentiments of the majority of the PNE fans at this time. I wish Alan Irvine all the very best for the future and hope he is shown a little more loyalty by his next employers than he was by us.
    If Shaw doesn't realise what a stupid mistake he's made and re-instates him immediately, whoever the new guy is has got a lot to do to fill the empty boots.

  • Comment number 23.

    Great blog Paul on a topic that won't cause many ripples south of Chorley but this makes it all the more attractive in my opinion.

    I'm not a PNE fan but I have followed their progress for the past eight years or so, even paying the £20+ to 'sit on North End' from time to time. From the games I've been to see, as well as talking to the surrounding community, it seems Preston are a victim of their own locality.

    With the neighbouring major clubs in Liverpool and Manchester as well as north west Premier League interest in the form of Wigan, Burnley, Blackburn and Bolton, PNE have some stiff competition when it comes to attracting players and probably more importantly, fans. The attendances speak for themselves, average crowd figures of below 13,000 last season tells its own story.

    You have to feel for Alan Irvine. He turned down a job last summer that would have all but guaranteed him top flight management next season, just so he could finish the job he'd started at Deepdale.

    It's a shame Derek Shaw couldn't afford him the same loyalty.

    As for Irvine's team selection I'm not in a position to qualify but I do know that on evidence from the past eight years, North End are certainly a 'selling club'. Not the best policy for a club competing in a league that is arguably the hardest to get out of in European football.

    As for replacements, you can forget the big names because they know they won't have the money to spend. Darren Ferguson is at the top of every 'Next Manager' betting market but while I don't doubt his managerial ability, he won't have the money to spend at PNE that he did Peterborough.

    Looking at the 'success' of Davies, Moyes and Irvine, and remembering the terrible regime of Craig Brown, I think Shaw will go for someone untested but hungry. One name in the hat could be Blackburn assistant boss Neil McDonald, who would surely have enjoyed his short-term spell in the hot seat at Ewood Park when Big Sam was in hospital last month.

  • Comment number 24.

    As a West Brom fan I am delighted that this has happened. Our chairman is very much a marmite person, our fans either love him or hate him. But you cannot deny his business logic. We are a more sound financially club with Preston and although it could be argued, I would say that we are at the moment, a much bigger club with bigger aspirations than themselves.

    For this reason in the summer, when our managers job became available, Mr Irvine was linked to our club. Now as i say, our fans have one opinion or the other about Jeremy Peace but when he releases the end of year figures stating that Roberto di Matteo was the ONLY man offered the job i'd tend to believe him

    This is despite the fact that at the time Alan Irvine came out - in the press - sayin he'd turned us down to be loyal to Preston blah blah blah. This to me even at the time was a blatant attempt to either get fans on his side or a get a pay rise or better contract or some sort of acclaim from Preston.

    It's all gone wrong now though hasnt it. Yes Preston may have been hasty, but football is a tough world, so to Mr Irvine i would say good luck to him in his future career, but as for the Preston job, what goes around comes around. Maybe you should've kept schtum about the west brom job - or taken it if you had been offered it eh?

  • Comment number 25.

    peter duerden - £180k every week? Are you sure? I have heard that the club lose money every week but I was told their weekly operating losses are nowhere near that amount.

    It will be fascinating to see what happens at the club in January when the transfer window is open. Will their be money to spend? If so, where has it come from? I reckon the person who knows the squad the best and what needs to happen in terms of strengthening it is the man who was sacked on Tuesday.

  • Comment number 26.

    Maybe Irvine should give Gary Megson a call as they both have plenty of time on their hands now. Megson has just been sacked by Bolton.

    I would certainly suggest that Irvine had a better relationship with PNE's fans than Megson did at Bolton.

  • Comment number 27.

    As a North End fan for nearly 40 years this has come as one of the biggest shocks in that time.

    I cannot help but think that there is something more than meets the eye about this. Maybe AI asked to talk to other clubs, maybe the negativity of the last few performances was just too much and when questioned by the board maybe AI didn't have any answers?

    Or more hopefully there is to be an injection of cash from some benefactor or other that will allow for some fresh faces. To be honest, Wallace aside Irvine has spent more money than any manager in North End's history on players much worse than those already there. Not only on fees but wages. Under AI the wage bill doubled. Most of these players that AI brought in on very good money and for sizeable fees spend more than half the time picking up splinters in their backsides! Parkin, Elliott, Shumulikowski, Parry, Brown... the list goes on. It would also appear that small squad or not, AI never had a settled team, as if he didn't know what his best XI was.

    Last season we had the best record for coming back from behind. Great spirit, but why were we behind so often? This season opposing managers are pretty sure what our plan A is, from what they faced last season and shut down that option meaning we can't now come from behind like we did before, hence the continual 1 goal thrashings. People say we deserved something from the Sheffield United game. Why? We had 1 shot in 90 minutes, what we got was what we deserved!

    No doubt Derek Shaw will get more venom spat his way again for this decision. But people have short memories. He has presided over the best decade of achievement of a North End side since Sir Tom Finney hung up his boots! Those that have a go at Mr Shaw are a vocal minority. The silent majority realise what he has managed to achieve with virtually nothing!

    I wish AI all the best and hope he finds a job soon and would thank him for his efforts, but in hindsight he was not as flawless as many would have you believe!

  • Comment number 28.

    Paul, last years operating loss was just shy of £6million! With the increased costs of players wages I could well believe the comment that we are currently losing well over £100,000 per week!

    Look at the financial statement to the stockmarket!

  • Comment number 29.

    Being a Rams fan we came up against this clown Shaw some time ago when Billy Davies was denied the opportunity of speaking to us initially. Shaw is typical of football chairmen who want success without a cost. Increasingly our soccer is dominated by the business community and the moneymen and there is then the "wannabes". Unfortunately Shaw comes into this latter category with blinkered thinking that he owns everyone body and soul 24/7. No doubt he, with other benefactors, keeps a cash strapped outfit alive and kicking but even he must realise that success comes with a price tag these days. We know all about that at Derby County who have tried throwing money at it and have failed spectacularly on occasion. Why can he not accept that his outfit, like many others, is becoming increasingly isolated because of high finance and that, like our club, is a world he and PNE will never inhabit.

  • Comment number 30.

    I was shocked when I heard the news Alan Irvine had been relieved of his duties. It was totally unexpected.
    However after thinking it through a little it does seem the most sensible thing to do as the club were spiralling towards relegation and I think they would have gone down. That is not to say that a new manager will be able to halt the slide.
    My major criticism of Alan Irvine was the way PNE played. There wasn't a plan B. It was 99% of the time 4-4-2 and the tactics involved lumping it up to the big guy and hoping it stuck and then we'd attack from there. Not pretty to watch but it was somewhat effective. Last season this worked better than it has this season and both the two big guys have struggled to keep hold of the ball when it's been played to them. This immediately means we're on the back foot again and with the defence not being as strong as in the past (St Ledger/Mawene missing) it means we've leaked more goals.
    My last match away was at Watford and I must say it was one of the worst PNE away performances I have ever seen. Tactics included launching throw ins into the box for the big guy to head in. Only thing was the big guy was taking the throw ins (Parkin). Things didn't improve at Forest either.
    We've had our best striker on the bench for the last few games, again, very strange and when he did play he spent all his time running down the channels chasing aimless punts up field. Not a place you want to see your centre-forward!
    I'm not sure what has happened behind the scenes but if there is no investment in the club then I forsee hard times ahead. Without any money a new manager is on a hiding to nothing. A poisoned chalice, certainly.
    Thanks for all your efforts Alan.

  • Comment number 31.


    Your blog mentions the literally wasted money on the terrible Shumulikoski and Parry but this is only half the story. You forget Elliot, Chaplow, Parkin amongst others who are nothing but average at best. Add to that Irvines desire to bring in Collins on a permanent deal from Wolves in January - quite possibly the worst centre half seen at Deepdale since Jeff Wrightson !!

    With the possible exception of Wallace few of Irvines signings have any re-sale value. He refuses to sign young players and even sent one young prospect (Trotman) on loan to Southampton whilst bringing in Collins on loan to replace him. In addition, there are many at the Club believe we have one of the best group of youngsters in a long time - yet Irvine continually refuses to give any of them even a sniff of a chance.

    You mention that Preston are a selling club which is quite correct but under Irvine we a rapidly spending money without buying or bringing through any players to sell.

    And I haven't even started on dwindling gates because of the very tactically dire football served up by Alan's charges. The Forest game is case in point.

    Maybe this is a 'common sense' decision by Degsy in order to secure the long term future of the Club.

  • Comment number 32.

    Like you Paul, i was gobsmacked to hear this news. If Preston were in the bottom 3 or teetring on the edge of the relegation zone, then i may have half expected something to happen, football being what it is. But come on, they are 8 points above the drop zone.

    Sorry to Preston fans, but you are a smallish club in every aspect. You have small gates, small fan base, small town, small squad, small budget, limited resources and on and on and on. Yes you occassionally get clubs punching above their weight - on a limited basis - teams like Burnley will be back in the Championship within 2-3 years. So yes its great to get a shot at the Premier League, but this is an exception more than a rule.

    How can you survive on gates of 12,000? Any manager working within these restraints, the very best they should hope for is play offs, but more realistically they should be happy with mid table and hope for a good cup run to boost the coffers.

    Anyone thinking PNE are UNDERachieving is having a laugh. With teams and squads like Newcastle, West Brom, Forest, QPR, Sheff Utd etc, Preston are about where i would expect them to be. Mid table.

    Irvine is a victim of his own success from last season. How can he only be judged on his last 10 games? He's been there 2 years for gods sake.

    This could go one of two ways A) Preston stay mid table B) Preston go down. Under Irvine option A was more likely. Anyone with BIG ambition will not move to PNE, so maybe they will get an up and coming manager like Ferguson, who was managing the rock bottom team in the Championship!

    Clubs like Leeds have had 2 x 40,000 and at least 2 x 30,000 crowds this season already at Elland Road. Every other week its between 20,000 - 27,000 and they struggle to find outside investment. We spend 0.0000 on transfers, even with these gates. What hope does the Preston chairman have? Lower gates and also no investment. Wake up PNE fans!

  • Comment number 33.

    Paul, thank you for writing a lot of sense as ever. I have been a fan for 36 years and in that time have only once felt as angry and despondent as I do about the sacking of Alan Irvine (when Nobby Stiles was sacked with us in a similar position).

    In my humble opinion, the reasons put out by the club for the sacking are ridiculous. I note that Everton haven't sacked David Moyes despite their sometimes precarious league position this season.

    I have always defended Derek Shaw in the past, as he has managed the club relatively well, from a financial viewpoint, in difficult times.
    However, this time my faith in him is destroyed. From my personal dealings with the club in recent times, the day-to-day (i.e non-football) management is not good, at best. The farcical on-off postponement of the Boxing Day match proves to me that the club is spiralling out of control and Alan Irvine's sacking just reinforces my belief. What a pity that Derek Shaw couldn't go instead. After all, it is Trevor Hemmings who has been funding our increasing debts.

  • Comment number 34.

    As a Sheffield Wednesday supporter I have always admired the way PNE did their business. They play the brand of football needed to get out of The Championship and I think Alan Irvine was doing a top job. Could this be good news for The Owls?

  • Comment number 35.

    I studied in Preston and made a documentary about football's finances in that time to whcih Derek Shaw contributed. In terms of running a tight ship - I think he has. Arguably if anything, he's allowed Irvine a little too much freedom in the market and those that have come in have done so on over inflated wage packets. He's not added to the squad as well as either Craig Brown (Fuller, Etuhu, Davis) or Davies (Nugent, Hill, Mawene) did and he's done it at greater cost.

    However, having said that - I do think he's been dismissed too early. He did an excellent job in getting them to the play offs again last season, and they have hit a bad run of form, but they are not in a dire situation yet.

    But Shaw's biggest mistake was falling out with Billy Davies. Billy for my money is the best manager in the Championship - Forest are going up.

  • Comment number 36.

    Interesting to note the comments about the Preston attendance being poor and reasons for this. One thing that strikes me is that Preston is surrounded by a lot of top flight or second tier clubs. They are competing for a fan base with Blackburn, Burnley, Wigan, Bolton and not to mention the teams in Manchester and Liverpool. There is a similar issue in West Yorkshire with Leeds getting a lot of support from surrounding areas so I feel that Preston do well to get the gates they do. I do think they ahve been a bit hasty aswell in sacking the manager and agree with an earlier comment about Chris Coleman's days being numbered.

  • Comment number 37.

    Good blog again Paul, I have to say you have a great knowledge of Championship football. I agree with much of what you said, struck me as a very strange decision to sack Irvine, and I would be very surprised if Preston are getting any investment in January.

  • Comment number 38.

    Not quite correct Paul.
    Firstly Shaw did not appoint Moyes Bryan Gray did, the previous Chairman. He left for Prem football which is not on Shaws agenda
    He appointed Davies ,who was Craig Browns assistant who he appointed and sacked. Davies left for Prem football which is not on Shaws agenda ( and all the backroom staff left as well)
    He appointed Simpson who was poor.
    The only manager he has actually appointed in 9 years who was from outside the club was Irvine.... and now he has sacked him.

    I have been posting consistently for the last two years that Shaw is useless, and it has become obvious over the last year that the club is run solely to suit Shaw and Trevor Hemmings the major investor.
    Shaw at best has been less than genuine with the supporters for a long time.

    He claims that Irvine has been sacked because of performances and the lack of goals.

    This is the man that tried to force St Ledger out of the club in October and we have won two games since.

    This is the man that complains that we are not scoring goals but refuses to give the manager any money to buy a decent forward.

    This is the man that can find the money to pay off the manager but not to buy decent players.

    This is the man who has so blatently failed in establishing a youth policy , we have not had one trainee make it to the senior team in the whole time Shaw has been in charge.

    This is the man that has so little concern about the diehard supporter that he fails to be honest or communicate in any meaningful way with the suppoerters. You say the ground is half empty and quiet. That is totally due to Shaws management and lack of honesty.

    There is no chaiman in our esteemed clubs great history who has done less for the club and continues to run the club for his and TH's financial interest.

    This is a disgrace and on Saturday I call on all PNE supporters to stand up and be counted , our Chairman has to go for the wellbeing of PNE.
    We are the only ones who can make this happen. This may be a negative for the team , but if we get rid of him through protest and possible boycott, we will be protecting the long term interest of PNE.

  • Comment number 39.

    I don't know what is going on in the boardroom at Deepdale, but as a season ticket and shareholder I am totally sick and fed-up with these men who pose as the custodians of our club. They are masters at courting disorder, distrust, and disgrace. Individually and collectively they are at worst amateurs and at best hopeless amateurs.
    At least Alan Irvine can hold his head up as an honest and trustworthy man who has done an excellent job with (let's face it) pretty average players, who gave and continue to give all that they are capable of. Hence, if that is not good enough then an injection of big money is required to improve the standard of player we can attract.
    And there lies the crux of the matter: no money therefore no quality players therefore no hope! So, as it stands, we go back to point zero, look for another fall-guy (sorry manager) and start all over again.
    Gentlemen of the board you are a total disgrace to this once proud club, and have treated an honourable man in Alan Irvine with utter contempt. Find a buyer and sell the club now. Your time is up Derek Shaw et al on the board. Please go as soon as possible because your way of running PNE plc has become tiresome and no longer acceptable to the genuine supporters. You are forever telling us Mr Shaw that you are PNE through and through.If you truly mean that then do the decent thing and get out of the boardroom. As long as you stay then we shall continue in the doldrums of mediocrity.

  • Comment number 40.

    The sackings of Irvine and Megson are less justifiable than the sacking of Hughes, but I doubt there will be as much of an outcry from the British press.

    Apart from Preston and Bolton having far lower profiles than Man City, the fact that they are British-owned clubs makes xenophobia less of a factor.

  • Comment number 41.

    PNE is my club.I've watched them since the year Finney retired. I've seen them go down and down and up and up.Yes their gates aren't as high as most other championship clubs. Reasons are manyfold: Neighbours Wigan, Burnley, Blackburn have all attained Premiership status and taken our fringe supporters. Morecambe has come into the Football League and taken some North Lancs fans.Some fans are apathetic ie we've been in the same division for 10 years and been the nearly men. However we all live the dream that by a footballing miracle, it may be our turn to have a crack at the top flight and gain the financial benefits.[Look at Burnley].If fans want to have the football pyramid and league table put in order of league attendances, how boring would this be. No I'm proud to support the great club of Preston North End and will do so in the future no matter their fortunes.

  • Comment number 42.

    When a manager leaves a club for bigger and better things, I hope all fans remember the name Alan Irvine before crying about a lack of loyalty.

  • Comment number 43.

    post number 42 - beathollow92 - why should they remember alan irvine for loyalty? if you read my earlier post and trawl the archives on the bbc site you will see that alan irvine was at no point offered a bigger job at a better club. for him to claim that he was and that he turned it down showed him up for what he is.

    like i said earlier on, it may be a hasty sacking, although reading some PNE supporters comments maybe this is debatable! PNE is a decent club and deserves some success, but I'm sure that when Mr Irvine attended his interview for the West Brom job and got told "sorry, maybe next time", that his loyalty to PNE wasnt the first thing that he thought about. it was oh id better look like i turned it down so i dont look stupid losing out to an inexperienced league one manager

  • Comment number 44.

    I'm a Preston fan and feel wholly let down by the Derek Shaw's decision to let Alan Irvine go. The previous chairman Bryan Gray described us a sleeping giant and you ask any Preston fan and they will happily tell you that Gray's involvement in the club was one of the reasons we got into the Championship in the first was Gray and not Shaw who gave Moyes his first chance in management.

    Any Preston fan will also tell you we massively overachieved last season getting into the play offs so how can any chairman, knowing the club overachieved, then expect the manager to do a similar job when we sell our most influential midfielder in Paul McKenna and then offload Sean St Ledger to Middleboro, fair enough he's back but we've been without him for 3 months and also without Youl Mawene, any team is going to struggle immensely to better mid table mediocrity.

    Since Bryan Gray stepped down as North End chairman Derek Shaw has come in and perhaps kept our heads above water. In my opinion any club that has a chairman with small ambitions will always be a small club. Shaw has had a decade at the helm, maybe now its time for him to realise he can't take the club where the fans want to be.

    The fans have always hoped Trevor Hemmings would one day step into the role, maybe the time has come.

    There's talk of boycotting the FA Cup game against Colchester next week, it wouldn't surprise me, I also expect a lot of 'sack the board' chants but as long as Shaw doesn't appoint a manager with similarly low ambitions, namely Gary Megson, a manager who will only keep us in mid table mediocrity for years to come.

    Irvine should not have been sacked...he was a manager trying to build something whilst his best players were sold around him, he cannot be held to account when his hands are tied.

  • Comment number 45.

  • Comment number 46.

    I think it's absolutely clear-cut that this was a poor decision. The sheer fact you have die hard PNE fans logging in here and commenting that it was a poor decision AFTER they've been on a poor run of form says volumes for Alan Irvine's ability and credibility. The danger is that Darren Ferguson accepts this job and then realises that the investment isn't sufficient to back up his own qualities as a manager and he also suffers the same fate.

    PNE will do well to recruit someone who can do as good a job as Irvine was doing.

  • Comment number 47.

    North End continued this season where they left off last season with stikers that failed to get them out of the championship.What made Alan Irvine think that they were going to be better this season.I know money is tight and strikers(good ones)command larger transfer fees but if the ones he had available had been transferred out this money could have been used with additional monies to bring decent strikers into the club.

  • Comment number 48.

    Irvine did a good good in his first 18 months, but the reasons for sacking him are clear:

    Results haven't been great, but performances have been worse and have been characterised by an increasingly longball, negative, uninspiring style reflected by Irvine's persona in interviews.

    Never before has any Preston manager made me feel so depressed about my club. Before every game it was about what we had to do to counter the opposition, not what problems we could cause them. Before the recent derby against the Lashers, even Holloway made me feel more upbeat about Preston than Irvine did.

    The other glaring reason for Irvine going is his signings. As a club that loses millions a year and is about 5,000 spectators short each game of breaking even, we have to either sign players on the cheap and sell them for a profit or bring through decent youngsters; Kilbane, Gregan, Creswell, Mears, Davies, Mckenna, Nugent, Fuller, St. Ledger - all players signed or brought through by Irvine's 5 predecessors and sold for big profit. Then look who Irvine has brought in:

    Chaplow - 750, could rise to £1.2m
    Brown - 400k
    Hart - 150k
    Collins - undisclosed but 15p would be too much
    Nicholson - Bosman
    Trottman - 500k
    Parkin - 400k
    Elliott - 300k
    Parry - 300k
    Shumilokoski (sp) - 400k

    I make that over £3m on players, most of whom can't get in the side and none of whom we'll get our money back for, let alone sell for a profit. The only 2 who we've a chance of getting a half decent fee for are Wallace (who's been a shadow of the player he was last season) and Nolan (who seems to have gone backwards from his promising performances last year)

  • Comment number 49.

    The best about Irvine was that he was honest. He never tried to talk up a performance, he just said what we all saw.You need luck to be a successful manager.Hitting the post when 1-0 up in the play off semi-final being one such example. If we'd gone on to the final against Burnley who knows what we would have acheived.Alan could have been a hero.Outplaying Newcastle we lost Mawene and the match. 24 attempts at goal in a 0-0 against Derby. Numerous unlucky incidents. This doesn't mean he was a bad manager, and like Billy Davies he'll be back to bite us.

  • Comment number 50.

    I'm a Forest fan and also attended the game against Preston on the 19th December. Forest are showing good form of late but I was surprised by how easily Preston rolled over on that occasion.
    There are a number of reasons behind our current form, but if I had to pick an outstanding one, it would be Paul McKenna. I'm not sure that we would cope particularly well if we were without him for any length of time. He is a quality player and an excellent captain who dictates the tempo of play in the holding role just in front of the back four. Our two centre backs, Morgan and Wilson, looked out of their depth last season when we came up from league one. This term, however, they have looked Premiership quality, and I put that down to Mckennas confidence inspiring leadership on the pitch - something that we have not seen since the days of Stuart Pearce.
    Holding such high regard for the former Preston man, it doesn't strike me as far fetched to ascertain that their current form would be better had they not allowed him to leave.

  • Comment number 51.

    nowe that megson has gone, i think i'd prefer darren ferguson to go there.

  • Comment number 52.

    or maybe alan irvine....

  • Comment number 53.

    This is by far and above the best article I have read on the BBC Football website in years, informative yet very accurate. It is hard for a club of Preston's size to compete, if you look at the clubs within 1 hour drive of Preston,

    Blackburn, Burnley, Wigan, Bolton approx 30 mins travel by car,
    Man United, Man City, Liverpool, Everton, under an hour
    Stoke, Hour and 20 mins.

    All the above are Premiership clubs that host the names of Torres, Rooney, Robinho, Saha, Barry, Tevez, Gerrard, Adebayor etc and the chances are that one of the other big name clubs are playing away within the local area for pretty much the same price as a PNE game you can go and watch a top class Premier league fixture.
    Sadly, gone are the days where you see people supporting their home town teams. It is very normal to see children in Preston walking round with Liverpool, Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea shirts on, the reason why?

    Probably because they are on the TV every week and the ones that play in the Champions League and players are built into super hero's and idolised. Children will see images of these stars every time they watch Match of the Day of Sky Sports News, you can't blame them for taking in the rave reviews that the commentators and pundits often give to the Premier League stars and having a desire to be like them.

    When it comes to the big games these kind of people go on (Liverpool in the Cup, Play off home leg), in all honesty I am one of those people. One that sees the attendance jump from 12,000 to 24,000 The problem is for Preston, there are 12,000 other people like me who do the same. The atmosphere when you do go on is often dull and mainly the football you watch is, the fans who are rightly frustrated having paid their money not getting what they want, also adds to a negative atmosphere, which makes you think why didn't I go and watch that 7 goal thriller that Match of the Day is raving about that night which is taking place 30 mins down the road.

    The feeling is hard for a PNE fan, remembering the days of the astro turf and the John Beck long ball game in the old division three (league 2) have come along way. Now they have a nice, completed stadium and have twice in the last 10 years been just 90 minutes away from the Premiership. Out of Burnley, Blackpool and Preston, Preston had the feeling of the most superior football club in the area and only a matter of time before they reached the promise land. Often finishing in the Play Off spots. Now at this present time With Blackpool flying and Burnley already there, I am guessing it is very hard for a PNE fan to see them in a position where they can't go any further. The problem is for a PNE fan they are already doing as much as they can, there is just not enough of them to match their ambitions.

    Preston like all other clubs needs a big money investor but until then they will always be a selling club, Irvine was respected and his sacking has sent disappointment and anger through Preston. The feeling is something doesn't quite add up, His Captain (McKenna) and best player (St Ledger) are sold and he had no option to keep them, he shows his loyalty when West Brom wanted him and a historically loyal club to their managers sends him packing. There is no money for the new manager so the feeling is, who can do better?

    St Ledger is back but Shaw said after St Ledger made his debut at the riverside that he was sold to balance the books, now he is back the question is for how long? Any of the half decent players get sold and go on to do well, look at all the ex PNE Players to play and do reasonably well in the Premier League, Fuller, Kilbane, Healy, Etuhu, Alexander, Nugent and Mears. These players might not have set the Premiership alight but they once upon a time brought in the crowds or at least put a smile on the fans at Deepdale.

    A viscous circle that won't be broken until major financial investment, Football watchers like me won't go on every week until something improves but it won't improve until they have an increase in mass support.

    Derek Shaw has an unenviable position, not much money and not much support from the frustrated supporters, just the question is, what next?

    Good article Mr Fletcher!

  • Comment number 54.

    Speaking as a fan of a team in trouble financially (Crystal Palace), I have to say that I was shocked at the sacking of Alan Irvine. It was right up there with Manchester City's decision to sack Mark Hughes.

    Irvine has done a great job to arrest the problems left by Paul Simpson. Preston regularly best Palace so Irvine always put out a team that could do some damage.

    He learnt under Moyes at Everton, so he is no mug at the Management game and he wont be out of work for long. When Neil Warnock leaves, I would be more than happy to see Alan Irvine managing my club. He is an ex-player of ours but someone with his abilities will not be out of work for long.

    Preston will regret this decision...overly rash and now, trying to find a new manager during the transfer window will probably leave the squad in a real state of flux. Players may well leave, but who will want to come in?

    It could be the first nail in a relegation coffin. I hope not, as Preston are one of those teams that belong in the Championship, not at a level below. Sadly the Chairman might have help send Preston on the road to relegation. I hope not and fingers crossed for a successful 2nd half of the season at Deepdale (although not when you have to play Palace!!).

  • Comment number 55.

    Enjoyed Bigdavekelly's comment.I've been to watch the Rovers and Everton etc. but it's not the same as your own team. I love football and the tactics side of the game and have really admired Irvine's organisation of the team. However he was conservative and maybe another manager may shake things up and give our youth a chance. I felt that he gave the opposition too much respect, and tried to match up with their style of playing eg Notts.Forest's 4 3 3 , instead of imposing our own 4 4 2. Most of our stay away fans have been bored with our stagnation. Also seeing Nugent,Mears and Alexander in Burnley shirts hurts.I don't blame Derek Shaw, he became chairman because no one else wanted the job.Fans should either put up or shut up. He is now a puppet for our major shareholders and if they say Irving out, then it's Irving out.Without their backing we are broke.

  • Comment number 56.

    As someone who knows allan irvine personally, i'm so shocked at the news of his sacking that i feel no sympathy for clubs like Preston who strive to reach top flight football. Allan came into the job as a rookie manager and managed to pick the club out of the gutter and almost into top flight football in the space of a year. Granted the team are going through a rough patch, but given better resources and more time i'm convinced allan Irvine would have got his ship back on an even keel.My own view is that the team perhaps needed an old fashioned striker like an ally Mc.Coist of rangers or a Mo Jonston who always seemed to be in the right place at the right times. Preston have been playing some very good football this season but just lacked in finnishing. I know for sure it won't be long before Allan Irvine is back in the hot seat at a bigger and better club,so Preston's mistake is an other cluds gain.

  • Comment number 57.

    Post 56 - "Preston have been playing some very good football this season"? If that's your idea of very good football you've got extremely low standards. I can only think of about 5 games in the calender when you could genuinely say we've played very well.

    As for knowing Irvine personally - you'd think you'd be able to spell his name correctly...

  • Comment number 58.

    Now then - and a happy new year to you all. I spent NYE in bed with flu feeling sorry for myself. Fun.

    Anyhow, the talk now is all about who North End will appoint. Darren Ferguson appears to be the frontrunner, with the likes of Paul Jewell, Steve Cotterill and Simon Davey also mentioned.

    Any thoughts?

  • Comment number 59.

    I think as long as they appoint a manager capable at this level they will prove to everyone that they are a distinctly average side that deserve to be exactly where they are in the league, sacking Irvine will do them no good. No matter who they hire, the outcome will be exactly the same as if irvine was in charge. All that this has done is further lower the confidence of an already fragile squad and put their current 'stable' league position in jeopardy. This was definitely the wrong decision to make and i hope Shaw finds a manager of a high enough standard to boost this clubs popularity and confidence within the squad, but i still believe the clubs form on the pitch will not get better until everyone at the club is behind the manager and the playing staff. Only that way are things going to get better at Deepdale. In a way i think this is slightly similar to the situation at Ipswich Town, my team, who were at the start of the season expected to be challenging for promotion along with the likes of Preston, Reading amongst others, yet the early season form has proven these expectations were perhaps too much to ask. Roy Keane was in the same kind of position, his signings had not really worked for him, the confidence was low on the pitch, but the chairman stood by him and now gradually the standard of the games at Portman Road is improving. I think standing by a manager until there is almost nothing worse that can happen, then it is time for a change. The situation at Deepdale wasn't desperate, but now it is after Shaw's decision, i think its a shame for Alan but i do hope Ferguson is appointed as he was also hard done by at Peterborough and deserves another chance at a club who need a manager capable of slowly steering the club in the right direction, and if promotion is what Preston want, then Ferguson is the man for the job.....

  • Comment number 60.

    Jewell, Cotterill or Davey? The sound of Season Tickets being shredded if any of those got the job would be deafening.

  • Comment number 61.

    Paul, Total shock and most people I have spoken feel the same even being in Dubai for NYE didn't compensate , the amazing thing is that some start critisising every little detail of AI's reign , he will of course go on to great things IMHO!
    The big picture shows relative success over two years and all I can say is that if there is not an ulterior reason ie new investor didn't like AI and has his own favourite the board have probably made a big mistake !
    I subscribe definitely to the article title much too hasty !


  • Comment number 62.

    Typically forthright and insightful blogg Fletch. As a fellow Prestonian I feel Irvine's dismissal is a weak and short-sighted decision. The usual assertions about 'directors not knowing anything about football' spring to mind, but like you I think there is something deeper. I've seen them a few times this season, and whilst they are lacking invention in midfield they don't look too bad. Considering the budget Irvine had, I thought he bought well. Injuries etc deprived him of his best selection combinations. Maybe it will come out in the wash, but if the usual non-disclosure clauses are tied into the severence agreement, I guess we'll never know. Happy new year Fletch.

  • Comment number 63.

    Irvine gone Shaw still here!!!!!Same old Same old!!!!Lets get the record straight...Irvine was sacked coz he put his foot dwn on selling lonergan to Stoke!!!!Yes his signings have been poor in some respects(Collins!Chaplow!)But More collins!!!The end was nigh once Mckenna went to forest ...lets remember mckenna went 2 forest and was placed as Club Captain within 3 mean feat but shows u the influence of the man....St Ledger will go sometime this month and Shaw will still be in the Prawn sandwich brigade....lets rememba shaw is living in the shadow ov Gray who even thou a bit ofa farquar he still communicated well wiv the supporters....Shaw wants 2 get in the premier league but at no cost or faith or courage in his Managers!(Billy Davies)...The man should not b in chardge of Bamber Bridge(No offence irongate!)He started off a crook 20 yrs ago and still is....Honesty is not in Shaws CV!!.Ferguson will come under the same spiel as Irvine(Probs the same press release 2 LEP just diffrent heading)...I hav faith in our support and as usaul Shaw is sayin that its the gates that r cripplin the club....point taken but Hemmings has2 do a Jack Walker and come in and take us 4wad...hemmings has kept this club afloat yr upon yr not Shaw!!!!Shaw wud luv the windfall ov the premier league but wud bail out afta 3 and take his spoils!!!!Shaw is the bad apple and is rotten 2 the core....1 more point 2 add is wen we played wycombe at the old Wembley playoffs PNE took 30k...whilst W.W took 10k!!!!The support is there just no faith in the Chairman....Remba we r all on the same Ship Together but we cant stop the Captain hitting the iceburg if he so wishes 2 sail the ship towards it!!!!.Gud luck Darren i will b still there yr in yr out at my beloved Deepdale but watch ur bck!!!!!

  • Comment number 64.

    I thought this was a disgusting decision. Having received very little in way of financial backing, Irvine was always going to struggle. PNE have fans have come to expect too much after the Billy Davies years and they should realise that they are not a club that is big enough to challenge for the play-offs year in year out.

    I'm a big fan of PNE having spent my time at uni in Preston but the club has been overachieving for too long now. Time for the club and the fans to realise this and aim at solid mid-table finishes.... unless Ferguson is given licence to spend a shedload of money.

    Personally, I think Ferguson is an over-rated manager and his time at Peterborough has been over-hyped. He inherited most of the players but only time will tell if he is a cut above Posh.

  • Comment number 65.

    Thank you so much for a very intelligent and refreshing article. Great job! UGG Boots

  • Comment number 66.

    whilst they are lacking invention in midfield they don't look too bad. Considering the budget Irvine had, I thought he bought well. Injuries etc deprived him of his best selection combinations. Maybe it will come out in the wash, but if the usual non-disclosure clauses are tied into the severence agreement, I guess we'll never know. Happy new year Fletch.rolex replica


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.