Ahead of tomorrow’s trip up the road to Preston, we spoke to the team behind the Preston North End Fans Forum Facebook group to take a look at Alex Neil’s men.
You’ve not had the best start to the season (although a great result in midweek!) – what have PNE fans made of it so far?
Not great, fans reactions are a real mixed bag. There are some still optimistic. Some wondering where the money from the big sales of Jordan Hugill and Greg Cunningham has gone. Others are writing us off completely. Personally, I think we will be OK. We had big setbacks due to injuries. Sean Maguire, arguably our main striker is out with a hamstring injury. Joining Sean is Billy Bodin who in preseason looked sharp but is out for six months. Two big players lost right at the start. We were never going to hit the ground running after that. In came Lukas Nmecha and Brandon Barker both on loan from Man City. We are asking a lot from these lads, to come in and pick up where the others had left off. I’ve seen moments of quality in the side, Barker’s goal against Leeds midweek was sensational. The grit and determination shown in the Stoke fixture, only to come away with one point due to the back of Peter Crouch’s head. Jordan Storey was quality in the Leeds fixture. I just think it’s a case of Alex Neil finding out our best 11, the new lads catching up and knitting together. It’s just a question really of how long that’s going to take but I remain optimistic. It’s early days. A lot can change in this league in a short space of time, as you probably know.
What should we expect tactically on Saturday?
I’d go with a 4-5-1, though again we seem to mix it up depending on our opponents. I wasn’t much of a fan of our 4-4-2 but who knows, it seems to be different each week. Either way, I’d expect a high press and for them to let up position in the name of going forward.
Who is your player to watch?
I couldn’t pick a certain player, as again the team is chopping and changing regularly. So, I’ll go with a trio. After his display at the weekend I’d go with Barker, it’s clear to see he knows where the net is, and he is not afraid of taking people on. We have not seen a great deal of him yet, but after that display I’d be shocked if he wasn’t handed a start. Ben Pearson – Cult hero, gets stuck in, a real old-fashioned player who wins possession and dominates midfield. He always manages to get opposition backs up, so if you’ve any hot heads, best steer clear. Paul Gallagher – I actually thought he was still suspended for this fixture but apparently not. Age is just a number for this bloke, his delivery, for me, is the best in the team and he can create something from nothing. Pings the ball around and our movement seems to revolve around him when he’s on the field. Decent from dead ball situations also.
What’s your score prediction?
The football in me says 1-1. But the North End in me won’t let me go against them in this fixture so I’ll go with 2-1 to us, you guys have started alright, better than us, but we need that win and we tend to do alright in the local “derbies.”