Michael Appleton approaching the technical area at the Stadium of Light

Preston are now on the hunt for a new manager after parting company with Alex Neil on Sunday afternoon after 4 years.

North End lost 1-0 at home to Luton Town on Saturday, making it three consecutive defeats in the week without scoring a single goal.

Neil has now paid the price with losing his job, even though many fans think he was lucky to last this long. It seems the Lilywhites will wait until the summer to appoint a long-term successor.  

A number of names have already been linked to the job, including Lincoln City manager Michael Appleton.

One big issue for North End appointing Appleton would be that he has only just signed a new long-term contract at the Sincil Bank.

However, there are many reasons why Appleton should be pursued by North End’s hierarchy, one being his knowledge of the club after making 120 appearances for the Lilywhites in what was a successful stint as a player.

Many believe this is what Preston want, a connection with their manager once again, a feeling of ‘one of our own’, something they didn’t have with Alex Neil.

As mentioned in Deepdale digest, Preston are looking to change the role of the manager to Head Coach something that Appleton is fully aware of even though his title is ‘first team manager’ at Lincoln, he had a head coach role at Oxford United.

Appleton has a fantastic reputation as a coach after working at West Brom and Leicester City in supportive roles to managers and focusing all his efforts on the training pitch.

As Head Coach at Oxford United, he did a remarkable job, coaching and helping to bring through players that are now doing big things in the game – Kemar Roofe, George Baldock, Joe Rothwell, Curtis Nelson and current North End midfielder Ryan Ledson to name a few.

Appleton was able to make young players star assets at Oxford which saw the club cash in and make significant money for a League One side, something that Preston used to be good at and something they need to get back to.

The one thing that goes against Appleton’s record is managing in the Championship, both at Blackpool and Blackburn – Appleton struggled, but it is worth noting that both clubs were struggling financially at the time.

Managing in League One has never seemed to be an issue for Appleton. He managed to guide Oxford to an 8th place finish in their first season after promotion from League Two; and again, this season he’s managed to defy the odds and get his Lincoln side into the play-off places.

The Imps are sat in 4th place and are only four points of 2nd spot with two games in hand, with a side that was only shaped together in the summer transfer window and the players that were brought in were all young, hungry, something to prove, but mainly in-experienced.

It may be very hard for Preston to lure Appleton away from the Sincil Bank considering he’s only just signed a new four-year-deal, but if Preston are serious about going places and want to fight at the top end of the table then Michael Appleton may just be the man they need.

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