This week I spoke to Preston North End fan Stephanie Lambert to get her insight on Saturday’s game at Loftus Road. Stephanie runs the PNEFansForum Twitter and Facebook accounts, and gave me an honest assessment of her hopes for the game…
Q. Former Leeds player and manager Simon Grayson has been in the hotseat at Deepdale for 3¬Ω years, making him one of the longer-serving managers of the 92. How do you view his time at the club? How popular is he with Preston fans?
A. Well what can I say? We are where we are because of Grayson (even if we like to forget his Leeds past). I love the fact he’s been in charge for that amount of time, you rarely see that nowadays. It gives the manager time to know the club which can never be a bad thing.
He has worked wonders for us here and he gave us light in what was a very dark place. We owe him a lot for that and I know he owns a little piece of every fans heart. Though, some can be divided on him when it comes to the Championship. He is proven at League One, no doubt about that. Some worry he has not got any experience in getting a team from the Championship to the promised land but there certainly is a first time for everything and we have to trust the gaffer on this one!
Q. Your chairman is the controversial figure Peter Ridsdale. What do Preston fans think of his time at Leeds United? Do they now consider PNE to be in safe hands?
I think it’s hard to judge when you never know the full story and nobody ever will understand it as well as Ridsdale will. His successes for them are overlooked because of the bad ending. All we can go off is what we have seen of him here. We are one of very few clubs that are debt-free and he played a role in that. He plays a completely different role here, we don’t have the same amount of cash as Leeds had at that time. We are more of ‘make the best with what you’ve got’ kind-of club. So I think we are in safe hands when it comes to the monetary side of things.
Q. How would you sum up Preston’s transfer business so far, which includes incoming strikers Simon Makienok, Eoin Doyle and one-time QPR defensive target Tommy Spurr?
A. PNE have brought a few in this season, seven in fact. We bolstered our keepers after having various loanees last season (for example Sam Johnstone from Man Utd and fan favourite Jordan Pickford from Sunderland) We have now permanently signed Anders Lindegaard from West Brom and Chris Maxwell from Fleetwood.We let Chris Kirkland go, unfortunately he didn’t quite make the mark for us but the duo of older/experienced and younger with potential it’s a very good set up. Both keepers look worthy of the shirt and it’s good to have competition as we will get the best from them both.
As well as Lindegaard another familiar face we’ve brought back is Callum Robinson from Aston Villa, we had him on loan during our playoff campaign in League One and he played a vital role. Grayson seems to see something in him – he’s young with bags of potential and signs of that are showing. Last game he scored a diving header after being subbed on. He hadn’t spent long on the pitch before this so he is keen to prove himself.
Eoin Doyle is the third and final familiar face to sign on for the club after a loan spell last season -¬† the forward signed a three year deal from Cardiff. We are yet to see what Doyle really has to offer and I guess we are to trust in Grayson here.
The newbies come in the form of Tommy Spurr (Blackburn Rovers), good defender from what we have seen in preseason but yet to be given much chance in competitive games. Simon Makienok on a one year loan deal from Palermo, the 6ft 7 striker skies above most players so can be great for corners and aerial battles. He did okay in preseason, scored too. He made his first appearance on Tuesday night but only came on at the end. So hopefully we shall see what he has in store for us.
The most exciting signing was Ben Pringle from Fulham, a target that was rumored a while ago. Preston were keen to bring in the midfielder and have finally managed to secure his services. From what I’ve seen of him so far I really like this player, he can be a bit of a wizard. He scored a fantastic goal in preseason and has great vision. I’m glad we have him and think he will play a massive part for us. So business has been good but we do need more for certain and we are yet to see if the good business has been the right business. Anton Ferdinhand keeps appearing at Deepdale so maybe something may happen there but with the sale of one of our main men, Joe Garner (to Rangers) his replacement up top is still paramount to me.
Q. It’s probably fair to say Preston has had a slow start to the campaign. What have you learnt from the defeats so far?
A. I think it’s very fair to say that. Most Preston fans wouldn’t put it so kindly however! Three games and three losses isn’t the most ideal start to the season especially when you finished the last one on a high. I think it gave fans false expectations of the season ahead. With the Championship seemingly getting harder and harder each season, Parachute payments being made and the money that is flying around it makes it very hard to for a club like us to compete. It’s clear to see there isn’t much room for mistakes in this league, though last season I’m pretty sure we won only one of our first eleven but where we ended up doesn’t tell the same tale.
It’s a very unpredictable league and an unforgiving one too. We aren’t clinical enough in the face of goal with the chances we get and even those can be few and far between. We need a goal scorer that’s for certain and with the recent sale of Joe Garner time is running out! A right back is also needed as we are currently playing players out of position to play the role which isn’t working and at times prove a big weak spot.
Q. Last season Preston finished 11th in the Championship, one place above QPR. What do you think the club needs on the pitch to produce a team that can challenge for promotion?
A. A goal scorer. Simple as that. We need someone who can bang them in for fun at this level. We rarely let a lot of goals in which is great but not when your not producing anything yourself. We have lots of strikers but we are yet to see any of them go on any sort of good run or goal streak in the Championship. Tightening up at the back would not hurt us either.
Q. When you think of QPR these days, what springs to mind? Any thoughts on the personnel at Loftus Road like Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink / Les Ferdinand?
Hoops! It’s always the blue and white hooped kit that comes to mind when someone says QPR. Oh, and Seb Polter’s ‘man bun’! Strange hair… Good player though. Also the fact you went in and and snapped up Conor Washington before us! We could have really done with him! Haha!
Also, I remember QPR signing Patrick Agyemang from us years back now – I will never forget his over head kick he scored at Deepdale. Amazing.
I like Jimmy FH, he suits your club. He looks like he wants to be there. Like it’s a passion for him and not just a job and I admire that in a manager but he’s a bit like Grayson for us. CAN he get you to the promised land? That’s the question!
Q. How do you think Grayson will set up your team to face QPR?
I think he will line up:
Grimshaw, Wright, Clarke, Cunningham
Robinson, Browne, Gallagher, Pringle
Doyle and Beckford.
However I would like to see Humphrey instead of Grimshaw and Hugill instead of Doyle.
Q. Who are the Preston players to watch out for at Loftus Road?
A. Robinson was on fire against Derby. He can have some pretty amazing games and when in-form can cause problems. Pringle is another character to keep a watchful eye on, he has great movement and will take a shot if given the chance.
Q. Which current QPR player/s do you rate or admire, if any? What about QPR players of the past?
A. Partially answered this before but I am a Polter fan. Everytime I’ve seen him play against us he causes us problems. It’s hard to defend someone like him. He has an eye for goal and not only that is a great play maker. Great player. Hes always one to watch. I’d love have him in a North End shirt any day.
Q. Which three teams do you tip for promotion this season and why? What about the drop?
A. Brighton I feel will do it this season. Their pace is phenomenal. Team structure is solid. It’s great to watch them play. They look ready for it. Norwich City and Fulham. Those two are guesses plainly from what I’ve see so far. The Championship is very unpredictable.
In the drop for me will be Blackburn Rovers – Venkeys their owners causing havoc among fans and the team look generally poor. Rotherham and Burton also.
Q. Score and prediction for Saturday afternoon?
A. 2-1 to QPR, I just cant see a win for us just yet but I remain hopeful for the rest of the season!
Many thanks indeed to Stephanie for taking the time out to share her views!