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Page last updated at 06:59 GMT, Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Preston sack boss Alan Irvine after run of poor results

Alan Irvine
Irvine took charge of Preston in November 2007

Preston manager Alan Irvine has been relieved of his duties after just over two years in charge at Deepdale.

Chairman Derek Shaw made the move after Monday's 1-0 loss to Sheffield United.

North End were one place above the Championship relegation zone when the former Everton coach took over in November 2007, replacing Paul Simpson.

The 51-year-old took Preston to last season's Championship play-offs but a run of one win in 10 games has seen them slip from the top six to 16th.

They currently lie eight points away from both the Championship's play-off and relegation zones ahead of Saturday's FA Cup third round home date against Colchester.

Irvine's assistant Rob Kelly, who was also placed in caretaker charge for a week prior to Irvine's appointment at Deepdale two years ago, has again been put in temporary charge for Saturday's game.

PAUL FLETCHER BLOG

Club captain Callum Davidson admitted that the news of Irvine's departure was totally unexpected.

"Sometimes you see these things coming," he told BBC Radio Lancashire. "But this one was totally out of the blue

"He is probably the best manager I've ever worked with.

"When he came in we were at the bottom of the league and he performed miracles to keep us in it.

"The next season he got us to the play-offs and that was on a small budget.

"It's a very, very hard league and there's a lot of teams with a lot more money than us but, unfortunately, the chairman's decided to look at results rather than other things.

"We were very confident that we'd turn things round and although people say we were eight points off relegation, we're also only eight points off the play-offs."

Preston striker Neil Mellor told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I'm still in a state of shock as are all of the players I've spoken to.

"One of my friends texted me to tell he'd been sacked.

"We've had some disappointing results of late but we still believed we could kick on and reach the play-offs.

"Alan had the respect of the whole dressing room and we were working hard for him to get the results we could for him.

"It's a tough division but a couple of wins would shoot us back up the table. We've been working hard as a team and the gaffer has been very thorough in his preparation."

Sheffield United v Preston

Sheffield United 1-0 Preston (UK only)

"The decision was not taken lightly", explained North End chairman Shaw to the club website.

"Alan did an extremely good job keeping us in the Championship and took us to the play-offs last season.

"However after a good start to the 2009-10 campaign, we have only picked up seven points out of a possible 30 since our last away win at Sheffield Wednesday on 20 October.

"In that period we have only scored six goals and that sort of record is not something we could allow to continue without addressing it."



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