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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Beyond Irvine

After an extraordinary Festive period saw Preston sack boss Alan Irvine and replace him with Darren Ferguson, Lakes reviews the managerial move at Deepdale and tells why it may not be a bad thing.

Imagine my shock when I received a text saying Alan Irvine had been sacked. My first reaction was disbelief - I had to check the news three or four times.

My reaction quickly turned to anger. Why would any club be short-sighted enough to sack a manager who had saved us from relegation and then taken us to the playoffs?

He'd got us playing solid, if unspectacular, football and seemed a steady hand at the tiller. With a bit more money to spend, you could see Irvine taking us to the Premiership. So why was he sacked?

Well, it looks to me - and to a lot of others - like Ferguson had been lined up for the job since his Peterborough dismissal.

Our chief investor Trevor "Moneybags" Hemmings, one of the richest men in Britain, has made no secret of his friendship with Sir Alex Ferguson over the years, and it looks like he's done his son a favour by getting his own man in.

Irvine was sacked citing a lack of form, but it was way too early for the notoriously cautious Derek Shaw to have sacked him for that.

Reading between the lines it looks like Derek was promised cash for players in exchange for getting the investor's golden boy in.

So I'm angry for Alan Irvine. I believe he deserved to be treated with more respect, and it's just this kind of thing that makes me hate football. I thought this was the kind of decision other clubs made, not ours.

At the same time though, I'm hopeful that we could be on the cusp of a new dawn of investment at Preston North End.

New boss Darren Ferguson [centre] could be handed big funds at Preston

Already there's talk of a £2.5m deal for Aaron McLean - that would represent a £1m increase on our record transfer fee of £1.5m for David Healy.

And reading between the lines again, there's the feeling that there might be more money on the way. That Hemmings has decided to be proactive with his investment and get a potentially big return.

All of this makes me excited - the missing ingredient at Preston has always been money.

But do we really want a manager who is largely unproven in the transfer market - he inherited a lot of players at Peterborough - and has no solid experience of the Championship?

I'm not sure. It could all go the way of Paul Simpson - and if Hemmings has his fingers burned by the Ferguson experience is he likely to put any more money in? I doubt it.

Put simply, it's make or break for Preston over the coming couple of seasons. We could sink into obscurity as the balance is upset, or we could rise to the Premier League.

I really don't know. But the uncertainty certainly has me excited. The Championship has become routine for us - the current longest serving members.

It'd be nice to see us try a new approach - and if it ends in failure, we'll deserve no more.

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