Further Preston improvement in Grayson's fourth year - Interview
Thursday, 23rd Feb 2017 14:17 by Clive Whittingham
Rarely spoken about but a real Championship success story nonetheless, Simon Grayson's Preston North End continue to make great strides according to fan Stephanie Lambert.
Assess Preston's season so far for us...
SL: Preston’s season so far for has been solid. We had a rather poor start but we picked up and got ourselves in to a great position in the league. As stated in my previous conversation with LFW, I was happy with safety. I think at this point I can say this has been achieved. We've nailed down a lot of our young talent to payroll which will do us nothing but favours in the coming seasons. With only nine points sitting between us and a play-off position I couldn't ask for more. We've built stability for the future. Though it is not an impossibility to find ourselves in those sought after play-off spots at the end of the season, I find it unlikely. We would have to bank on Shef Wed or Leeds choking and with a few on more points than us chances are slim. That being said, I reckon next season we could possibly be ones to watch.
Four years in charge for Simon Grayson, he seems to have done a very good job while getting very little credit outside of Preston. Presumably popular among supporters?
SL:We're used to that. Media never seem to look our way or talk about us often but that has its pro's... means that other teams won't come hustling him to jump ship. The guy has done a mighty fine job here at Preston, we hold him in very high regards. Shoe string budget, yet we are up there with the best. The guy has an eye for a decent player. Ones that most overlook. I could only sit and wonder what the guy could do for us with money behind him or maybe this way suits him better. Who knows? All I know is that there is a reason he is a long serving manager.
What would it need for Preston to move on and improve on the level they're currently at?
SL: I think a proven striker wouldn't go a miss. We have a good defence and don't often let heaps of goals in. Our midfield is very strong now with many options. Daryl Horgan, Ben Pearson and Aiden McGeady are probably the most exciting players I've seen at Deepdale in years. You know that each one of them can create spectacular chances... we literally just need someone clinical on the end At times. No discredit to anyone up top as we are doing well but if there was anywhere I would strengthen the team that would be it. With new signing Barkhuizen making more of an appearance and Stevie May back from injury, who knows? they could be the missing ingredients.
Tell us a bit about Jordan Hugill, who got linked with moves to Ipswich and others in January...
SL: I love JH. He will give you 100% every game. He battles, He battles and he battles. He's come up good when we've needed him the most. He's netted in a few of our derby matches. He even scored two goals to grab a point from Villa on their own turf but then he will go and miss a penalty against Wigan where it ended 0-0. Highs and lows for Jordan. He's a top player, young and he doesn't give up. A little work on consistency and he could really be something special.
I've noticed Jermain Beckford has been a sub recently - is this to do with him belting his own team mate at Sheff Wed?!
SL: I think it really annoyed fans when it kicked off between our own players on the field. Not our normal tune. He was given another chance against Leeds I think it was and was red carded again for kicking out five mins or something silly after he came on the pitch. Fans booed him off. It was unacceptable. Since then we have had no other option but to give the others a shot and it has worked. Beckford is older now, he's had injuries too this season as well as suspensions and we have players 21-24 years in their prime and ready to show what they have got and they did in his absence. In the long term these are who we are going to be calling on and if they are ready to step up you simply can't take it away from them for someone who was willing to do what they did with their chances.
Stand out players and weak links in the side...
SL: Aiden McGeady. In the past week I've seen Aiden take it past three players nutmegging one and spinning another before outpacing the last. I've seen him control a ball on the line with his back to it when it was about 20ft in the air. I've seen him score two screamers from outside the box in one game and I've seen him run the pitch with the ball at his feet more times than I can count. This guy is complete magic and when he is on song. He will destroy teams. He has some of the best feet in the English game. No doubt.
Horgan is another one to keep an eye out for, he's like a greyhound. A tiny greyhound. If he thinks he can get the ball you better be a few feet ahead because this guy’s super quick and he has the ability to put the ball in very dangerous areas.
Short, medium and long term aims for the club?
SL: Short, I think we push it if we can go on a good run I can't honestly say play offs are out of the question... just yet.
Medium, we build on what we have strengthening our striking options and making a real go at things.
Long term, our home attendance is an issue and I'm not afraid to say it. We are surrounded by many clubs. Bolton, Blackburn, Burnley Man Utd, Man City, Liverpool, Everton... it's hard to sustain a good sized crowd for low profile games. This must improve if we want to get to the promised land. I think with a bit more backing we can definitely make it there but I'm unsure with home attendance the way it is if we have the money to sustain it if/when we get there.
The Twitter @PNEFansForum, @loftforwords
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