Ruud van Nistelrooy is not someone you would expect to affect the outcome of the Championship relegation battle, but should Preston North End stay in the division the Real Madrid player may be owed a debt of gratitude by a fellow centre-forward, Chris Brown.
Brown's manager, Alan Irvine, showed him tapes of Van Nistelrooy, urging him to take special notice of the positioning and movement of the former Manchester United player. It paid off at The Valley as Brown's assured finishes earned the points which lifted Preston three places in the table. They are four points above the drop.
"He [Irvine] called us into a meeting and we watched Van Nistelrooy's goals when he was at Man Utd and Real Madrid," Brown said. "It was how he was always on the move and always gets to the middle of the goal. When you watch it, he makes it look easy. We were in there about 45 minutes, just watching and rewinding each move. It was great to see."
It is a trick Irvine has used before. While assistant manager at Everton he showed a similar tape to a young Wayne Rooney. With tongue very firmly in cheek, Brown added: "Obviously Rooney hasn't taken it on board, has he? He's been struggling."
Charlton's manager, Alan Pardew, conceded that the defeat – a sixth at home this season – means that automatic promotion is beyond his side. While Preston may start dusting off videos of everyone from Maradona to Jimmy Greaves, Pardew has no desire to place himself in front of a television screen.
"It was a horrible, horrible day," he said. "It's a video that I'll never watch, I promise you. I wouldn't put any Charlton fan through that. I wouldn't even make my players sit through that video. I don't think that would do them any good at all."
The crowd were agitated from the moment Brown put a calm finish into the roof of the net after 15 minutes. Charlton were booed off at half-time and again in a stadium that was half-empty at the end. "I feel for the fans today, paying good money and watching a load of crap," Pardew said.
Patrick McCarthy toe-poked in an equaliser with 15 minutes to go but Brown got his side a deserved victory three minutes later, controlling Simon Whaley's cross with his left foot before volleying in with his right. Van Nistelrooy would have been proud.
Goals: Brown (15) 0-1; McCarthy (74) 1-1; Brown (77) 1-2.
Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Weaver; Halford (Iwelumo, 82), Sodje, McCarthy, Youga; Sam (Sinclair, 14), Holland, Zhi, Ambrose; Lita, Varney (Gray, 46). Substitutes not used: Elliot (gk), Semedo.
Preston North End (4-4-2): Lonergan; Jones, St Ledger, Mawene, Davidson; Sedgwick, McKenna, Carter, Whaley (Hill, 87); Brown, Priskin (Mellor, 71). Substitutes not used: C Neal (gk), L Neal, Trotman.
Referee: G Hegley (Hertfordshire).
Man of the match: Brown