You can sign in by clicking on the round silhouette in the top right corner of this piece. Peter SmithGoing back to a former club, it seems like whatever the reception it might not affect you? Neil: What happens is that when everything is going well, you'll get all the plaudits you deserve. When it's not going well, you'll get all the criticism you deserve.
Every word from Alex Neil press conference ahead of Stoke's trip to PrestonAlex Neil is meeting the media this morning as Stoke City try to secure their first back to back wins of the season. Stoke have had a free week of training after an impressive 3-1 victory over Sheffield United at the bet365 Stadium last weekend, a day which also saw Josh Laurent, Sam Clucas and Jordan Thompson make a welcome return to the squad. Stoke are hoping that is a sign that luck with injuries is starting to turn.
Whether it's by design or not they sit really deep and make it hard to break down, they're dangerous in transition. Apart from the Norwich game they've found goals hard to come by but they are competitive in every game. They haven't had many defeats this season and they'll certainly be hard to beat, particularly at home. Peter SmithNeil returning to PrestonNeil: "I'd like to think, I worked there for four years, I brought a lot of players to the club, I've got a lot of close friends behind the scenes.
He's been a really clever link for us in terms of taking the ball in. He's intelligent in terms of his movement. More importantly he's had some opportunities. Think of the Swansea game here when he's had a header when he's just gone up a little early, his header at Burnley when if he puts it either side of the keeper he probably scores, I think he's had five or six disallowed goals this season. It's not as if we're creating 10 chances a game for him but he's had opportunities to score. I think some of the goals he's had disallowed shouldn't have bee, I'm thinking of the one at QPR when he wasn't offside.
We go off stats a lot because performance and result are two different things. I think if you get the performance element right more often than not you'll win more games. In terms of pressures, re-gains, pressing the ball in the opposition half, turning over the ball and locking teams in, not allowing them to hit us on the counter, sustained attacks, all those elements of the game have dramatically improved game on game. We're basically surpassing our own previous record as games go on, which is a good sign.
If you do that side well and that side well we can judge how you've performed. I wouldn't say that every game is about winning individual battles. Sometimes you get games that are man for man duels because you're matched up. Last Saturday, for example, our spare player was a centre-back, their spare player was a centre-back and it's a match up everywhere else on the pitch. Ohter games are strategy vs strategy. We'll play a different shape from them and the spare player is going to be a wing-back or a full-back. Who can utilise their spare players better? All games for different reasons are different and you have to try to do different things.
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The tempo of training certainly went up, fitness levels from a personal point of view has improved. That's for a variety of reasons, I'm not suggesting they didn't train hard before. When you're putting a team together and you've got guys like Fosu and Liam Delap, we've got a loan players - six in the building - and they are not fully up to speed when they come in. I think now they're getting to the levels of fitness when they can show their best qualities. In Fosu's predicament, for example, in the last three games I think he's looked fit and strong and you're starting to see what he is and how good he can be.
If they're one who wants to run in behind, Dwight can be the alternative, if they are one to not want physical contact, Dwight will happily go and do that. In that respect I've been pleased with how he's performed, I'll be pleased for him more than anything if he can get on the scoresheet but it's not something that overly concerns me. Peter SmithYou'll know Preston well, what are the real dangers this weekend? Neil: If you look at their record and how many goals they've conceded gives an indication into what type of team they are this season. Teams have struggled to break them down.
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