• Nathan Smith

PRESTON NORTH END: 5 MANAGERS WHO COULD TAKE CHARGE OF THE LILYWHITES


On the March 21st 2021, Alex Neil’s four-year spell at Preston came to an end, as he was let go with the club in the bottom half of the table.


Frankie McAvoy is currently in caretaker charge and looks set to remain in that role until the end of the season, but who will take over in the summer?


Let’s look at five managers who may end up in the Deepdale dugout for next season…


Gareth Ainsworth


Arguably one of the coolest managers in football, Ainsworth has performed miracles with Wycombe Wanderers, taking them from League Two to the Championship in his nine years with the club. While his sides do not have the best reputation for playing scintillating football, his Wycombe side were one of the more streetwise sides in League One and League Two, knowing exactly how to grind out a win. Perennial underdogs, the Championship has proven a step too far for the Chairboys so it would be interesting to see how Ainsworth would fare in charge of a more established second tier side. The favourite for the job, not many managers have earned a chance more than Ainsworth and with Wycombe on their way back to League One, it could be the right time for him to move on.


Nicky Butt


Having left Manchester United after nine years as an academy staff member, most notably being head of academy between 2019 and his departure in 2021. Being the head of academy of a club with such a prestigious club certainly shows a lot of know-how for youth football and while his playing career at Man Utd would’ve helped, Butt clearly has a lot of football knowledge. However his lack of coaching work with a senior side could make him a slight risk to appoint as the manager of Preston. Regardless, if Preston are looking to build from their academy and build a young core than Butt may be the man, but if they want a quick promotion push, Preston may look elsewhere.


Frankie McAvoy


The current caretaker manager, now until the end of the season will give McAvoy a great chance to impress if he does want the role as Preston manager. An impressive point against Norwich is a good start, but unfortunately it doesn’t get easier for the Scotsman, as they take on promotion chasing Swansea and Brentford next. A long-time assistant of Neil, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he followed the fellow Scotsman to his next job, but if he wants to go into management then now is the chance to impress. It will be interesting to see whether McAvoy can offer something different to Neil, and that could be enough to land him the role as manager of the club.


Ryan Lowe


Ryan Lowe’s management career has started off very well, with two promotions in his first two full seasons as the man in charge. Having led Bury to League One in the 2018/19 season, the problems off the pitch at Gigg Lane led to Lowe departing to Plymouth Argyle in place of Derek Adams. Lowe guided Argyle straight back into League One and secured third place in a season halted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout his time in management, he has favoured a three at the back system, and a focus on outscoring the opposition, so Lowe’s teams do tend to entertain. Clearly an exciting manager, it won’t be long before Lowe finds himself in the Championship but whether the Preston job has come too soon, we will have to find out.


Michael Appleton


Michael Appleton has done a great job so far at Lincoln City, taking over from the Cowley brothers, who had done some fantastic work with the Imps, and Appleton has done well to carry on from where they left off. With a focus on bringing in younger players, Appleton has had a decent spell building a profitable team at Oxford United and looks on course to do the same at Lincoln. Currently chasing promotion to the Championship, if Lincoln are successful then it will be unlikely to see the Englishman jump ship but if they miss out, Appleton may fit Preston perfectly.