The North End boss has certainly done his homework on Saturday’s Championship opponents.
Preston North End host Nottingham Forest in the Championship this Saturday hoping to maintain their great run of form following their superb 3-1 win over title contenders Norwich City in midweek.
Wednesday’s result at Deepdale, combined with Leeds United’s 2-1 win over Swansea City, meant not only that Preston are now just one point behind the 12th-placed Swans and closing in on the top half of the table, but that the top two have places again.
Over the past six games, Preston have won four and drawn two, putting them second in the form table behind only Bristol City, whose last six have all yielded victories, while Forest have been inconsistent, with three losses, two wins and a draw (Football Web Pages form guide).
Speaking to the official PNE website ahead of the weekend fixture, manager Alex Neil gave an in-depth analysis of Forest’s tactics and gameplans, even comparing what Martin O’Neill has done to the philosophy of his predecessor, Aitor Karanka.
“They are a different type of team to what they were earlier in the season,” he said. “Aitor [Karanka] had a lot of rotations, a lot of wide players rolling in, full backs getting high and wide.
“Whereas Martin – from the games I have watched and bearing in mind they were against West Brom and Brentford, who are two very expansive teams – has them really structured, getting in their shape, playing from their shape, closing the lines off and then hitting you on the counter.”
Neil then spoke about how the Reds can “approach the game in any which way that they want” and “have the players to do so”, singling out Lewis Grabban and Daryl Murphy as two of the men to watch, before finishing off by saying he expects a tough match in which his side must “perform at our very best levels”.
As far as pre-match pressers go, there is plenty for Forest fans to be concerned about – a very high level of opposition analysis across two managers, ensuring there’s no complacency among his troops, and on top of that, North End are in great form and will be hoping to do the double over the Reds this season, having won 1-0 at the City Ground in December.