Five things we learned from Preston North End (a)
Paul Kendrick reflects on five talking points from Wigan Athletic's derby defeat at Preston...
1 Lightning can indeed strike twice! Paul Cook had used last season's debacle at Deepdale as a motivating factor in the lead-up to the game, making the players sit through re-runs and insisting: "We'll be aiming to do much better...it would be hard to do any worse, that's for sure..." Incredibly, this one was arguably even worse. Okay the scoreline was only 3-0 and not 4-0, but at least there was some mitigation to last year's result - Nick Powell being kicked out of the game early on, Darron Gibson's red card, a new-look backline getting used to each other. This time there was nothing to offer up as a defence - quite literally.
2 Surely not another season of chalk and cheese at home and away? One of the manager's big tasks - by his own admission - is addressing the unbelievable disparity between performances, and results, at home and away. If the opening two games are anything to go by, he's still no nearer to finding a solution. As great as Latics were last week in seeing off a Cardiff side tipped to make an immediate return to the Premier League, they were just as bad against a North End team who came into the game on something of a downer after losing their opening match and enduring a disappointing end to the transfer window. Once again, the travelling fans showed up and did their part behind the goal, and weren't rewarded by their side on the field. That must change - and fast.
3 Kal Naismith can hold his head high. For some reason, the unassuming Scot has yet to win over a section of the fanbase, despite his consistency of performance since arriving 12 months ago. Paul Cook called him 'our problem fixer' after the game, having dropped back from midfield to centre-back following Danny Fox's injury-enforced substitution. When everyone's fit and available, Naismith probably doesn't get a game. But his manager knows he can depend on the former Portsmouth man whenever he needs a fire putting out. For all Latics' problems at Deepdale, Naismith certainly wasn't one of them.
4 Sam Morsy is a massive miss in the engine room. To be fair, Lee Evans and Lewis Macleod were two of the visitors' better performers on the day. But Latics miss the bite, the bark and the leadership of their skipper - Cook's on-field lieutenant - when he's not in the side. They also missed the effect he has on others, with a total lack of leadership and drive from the red shirts as North End bossed it. With the home crowd in 'Ole' mode by the hour mark, and Ben Pearson spraying the ball around like Paul Scholes, it did not make for pleasant viewing for anyone of Wigan persuasion. The sooner Morsy returns, the better.
5 Kieffer Moore looks like being a real asset going forward. The big striker would not have wanted to get his chance in these circumstances, with Joe Garner having to leave the field after a blow to the head. But the £2.5million arrival from Barnsley showed some promise after coming off the bench for his debut, ploughing the lone furrow up top, despite feeding off scraps. There were also encouraging cameos from fellow new-boys Jamal Lowe and Joe Williams, whose arrival at least give the manager options to change things if he needs to. And Cook warned after the game those changes will come sooner rather than later.