Fergie Jr dives in at the deep End

OK, so he hasn't taken the reins at Hull City as predicted back in November, but after less than two months of being – quite literally – out in the cold, the son of the game's most decorated manager ever is back.

Yep, Darren Ferguson is Preston North End's new boss.

NEWS: Darren Ferguson appointed Preston's new boss

His appointment sums up the cut-throat nature of life in the Championship.

The official line is still that Ferguson left Peterborough by 'mutual consent' at the tail end of 2009, but the widely acknowledged reality is that he was pushed out the door – despite guiding the Posh to successive promotions in the last two seasons.

Softly-spoken Scot Alan Irvine was given his marching orders by the Deepdale hierarchy last week.

His firing squad pointed to a run of one win in 10 games which had left Preston a lowly 16th place in the table.

Irvine's previous achievements of transforming the Lancastrians from relegation candidates when he took the job in 2007, to an outfit that qualified for the play-offs the following season – on a shoestring budget – have seemingly been ignored.

"Gah!"

It'd be fair comment to say that both managers were ousted prematurely from their posts, and they will have no doubt felt hard done by at the way they were treated.

But while Irvine will surely prove his worth elsewhere in the future, Ferguson is the one who will be smiling now. And well he might.

If, and it's a big if, he's given time to work the oracle at Deepdale then it could be a marriage made in North End heaven.

True, there'll be little money to spend for Ferguson Jr, but daddy's just down the road with a potential solution in the shape of nascent world-beaters, ready and willing to be shipped out on loan.

Deepdale is, after all, where previous United loanee David Beckham cut his teeth 15 years ago.

"Hiyer!"

But Preston are also something of the forgotten team of the Championship.

Perennially passed over in pre-season promotion predictions, they have nevertheless revelled in this lack of attention and secured a play-off berth in three of their last five campaigns.

Yes, they've failed to succeed in this end-of-season lottery – despite reaching the final in 2005 under Billy Davies, as they did under David Moyes in 2001 – but Ferguson's appointment could well be the final piece of the puzzle needed for them to secure that Premier League windfall.

Even this season, success is by no means a forlorn hope.

Preston sit just eight points behind sixth-placed Swansea, and a few canny additions in the January transfer window could kick-start a post-Christmas run under the new man's guidance.

There's usually one team who emerges from the pack at the business end of the season, and the nature of the division means there are a number of candidates for this tag.

North End are one you might confidently label as 'likely'.

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