The Opposition View: Preston North End

13 December 2012 07:10
PNE fan Dan Birkett on Saturday's upcoming game.

Despite all of what is going on off the pitch at this current moment, it's time to talk football with the opposition ahead of Saturday's important match.

What is your assessment of Preston's season so far?

Inconsistent, there is a team here somewhere but one week we'll look like genuine promotion contenders and the next we will look like Morecambe reserves. Westley has put together a decent, hard working squad on very little money in comparison to last season's lot but his tinkering and sometimes bizarre tactical decisions have been detrimental sometimes. Much improvement needed but some promising signs.

Given Michael Appleton's previous association with PNE, were you disappointed to see him go to Blackpool?

I'll always be fond of Appleton but obviously I hope it goes pear shaped at Blackpool, he's a young manager who was given a chance to move up a level and get back to the North West so there is no ill feeling from me. The Blackpool fans are yet to take to him it seems and the fact he has a tattoo on his chest commemorating PNE's Division Two winning season in 2000 won't help.

What do you make of Graham Westley? He has ruffled a few feathers during his time at Deepdale, hasn't he?

He's a nutter really and a good number of Preston fans really don't like him but I think given time he could be good for us. He's put together a squad from scratch this season which he has been experimenting with but now it is time to decide on his best eleven and put a run together.

His texting antics were over publicised but he is an odd ball who knows what type of characters he wants to work with (Winners, he calls them). The man certainly talks a good talk, likened to a cockney used car salesman but time will tell whether he will deliver.

You had Lee Williamson on a very brief loan spell back in 2009. Do you remember what he was like in a Preston shirt?

I liked him a lot, scored a few goals for us and I would have loved us to sign him at the time as he was a proper box to box player. He ended up being suspended for our play-off campaign I recall and if he wasn't it might have been a different story as we were certainly lacking in both legs against Sheffield United.

What are the biggest strengths of this North End team?

Work rate, togetherness and fight. This might not be the most talented set of players ever to grace Deepdale but they will put their bodies on the line, chase lost causes and show plenty of passion. Refreshing after the work shy, money grabbers we have had in recent years.

What weaknesses in your side might Pompey exploit come Saturday?

Our first choice right backs (Laird and Keane) are out long term so i'd say we're vulnerable down the flanks at the moment, especially down the right as Jeffrey Monakana offers very little protection. Set pieces concern me at times too as despite our height I think we have a habit of switching off, particularly just before half time.

What sort of match will you be expecting at Fratton Park?

A pretty even one, we seem to create a lot of chances at the moment but converting them is proving difficult even though we scored a hat full at the start of the season. I'm not expecting a lot of goals in what will probably be a scrappy affair on a cold December afternoon.

Predict the outcome of the game.

I'd like to think we will bounce back with a win after a shocking performance against Crewe but I would probably go for a 1-1 draw if I was putting a bet on it.

Source: Fratton Faithful