Now that we are comfortably into 2020, we thought we’d do something different and analyse the past decade through shirt numbers.
Below are five shirt number upgrades from the 2009-10 season to the 2019-20 season and there are some significant improvements.
Shirt No. 4 – Richard Chaplow to Ben Pearson
This is undoubtedly a significant shirt upgrade.
Burnley youth product Richard Chaplow signed for Preston for the hefty fee of £800,000 on January 9, 2008.
After an injury hit end to the 2007-08 season, Chaplow went on to start the 2008-09 season in a rich vein of form.
The nimble midfielder earned the Championship player of the month award for August, as PNE climbed to third.
But Chaplow would be plagued by injuries and despite scoring a number of key goals, the Accrington-born footballer would never make a sustained impact.
Ben Pearson, on the other hand, has taken the no. 4 shirt to a new level.
Despite his, erm, disciplinary “issues”, the tenacious terrier has become one of the best defensive midfielders in the Championship.
There is no doubt that Ben Pearson could cut it in the Premier League, especially now he seems to have tempered his inexplicable rage.
Shirt No. 8 – Veliče Šumulikoski to Alan Browne
I don’t really need to say much here, do I?
Šumulikoski, or should I say, the Macedonian Gerrard, was touted as the next big thing.
A supposed genius in the middle of the park, Šumulikoski was the definition of a flop – making just 15 appearances before being released at the end of the season.
The mythical Macedonian has since played in China, Russia and the Czech Republic.
A decade on and it’s Alan Browne who dons the no. 8 shirt.
Quite simply, Browne is a wonderful player, capable of playing across the pitch.
When he’s not banging in sumptuous efforts from range, he’s filling in at right back. The Irishman is the definition of a utility player.
And in 2020, barring a disaster, Browne will achieve the 200 appearances milestone for his beloved PNE.
Shirt No. 11 – Darren Carter to Daniel Johnson
Now a Solihull Moors regular, Darren Carter joined Preston North End for a reasonable fee from West Bromwich Albion.
A midfielder with Premier League experience, Carter endured a mixed bag at PNE.
A sore point being a 93rd minute own-goal the midfielder scored against Portsmouth, which knocked Preston out of the fifth round of the FA Cup.
While Carter had a few redeeming qualities, namely his left-foot and energy, the sizeable midfielder struggled to hold down his place at Preston.
Jamaican technician Daniel Johnson is a marked upgrade in the no. 11 shirt.
Like Carter, Johnson has been the subject of vehement abuse, but the 27-year-old has been a reliable performer and treasured asset.
DJ offers silky ball-playing ability and has provided many key goals over the seasons.
In League One, Johnson thrived in his advanced midfield role, making 22 goal contributions in PNE’s promotion season.
Johnson has never quite hit the ceiling set in 2014-15, but he is coming close this season and has already made 12 goal contributions in 17 appearances.
Shirt No. 21 – Neal Trotman to Patrick Bauer
Sorry to be the harbinger of absolutely terrible memories.
Centre half Neal Trotman signed for Preston in January 2008, but would go on to play just four games in three years.
The injury-hit defender was a disastrous signing for the price of £500,000.
Preston’s current no. 21 is a far cry from Manchester-born Trotman.
A free transfer signed in June 2019, Patrick Bauer has quickly become a fan favourite.
The big German is a no nonsense, diligent defender who loves to bring the ball forward and get Preston moving.
The towering defender has added much needed strength to the backline and formed a formidable partnership with Ben Davies.
Shirt No. 29 – Stephen Elliott to Tom Barkhuizen
Stephen Elliott enjoyed a fairly fruitful first season at Preston, scoring six times in 39 appearances – including a brace against former club Wolverhampton Wanderers.
But the former Republic of Ireland international waned from favour and would be released from the club at the end of his second season.
Elliott, as recently as June this year, appeared on the Undr the Cosh podcast and he spoke of his love for Preston and how he enjoyed playing alongside Parkin, Brown and Mellor.
It didn’t work out for Elliott at PNE in the end, but he certainly wasn’t the biggest flop in the past decade.
Speedy frontman Tom Barkhuizen represents a major upgrade in the no. 29 shirt.
Now in his fourth season at the club, Barkhuizen has been everpresent on the team sheet, featuring both on the wing and as the striker.
In 109 appearances, the former Morecambe man has bagged 25 goals and 13 assists. Although the 26-year-old has been streaky at times and received criticism for his inconsistencies.
This season Barkhuizen hit a purple patch in October, scoring four and assisting one in five games, but since then he has made just one goal contribution.
The speedster is notoriously frustrating, but there can be no doubt that Barkhuizen is a vital component in our team.
A loyal servant to the no. 29 shirt.