James Vickers gives his thought’s on the Carabao Cup time with Preston North End and his support of PNE.
What’s your favourite moment as a Preston North End fan? Season, game or anything other occasion.
Personally for me it will always be the 4-0 victory at Wembley in the League one play off final. We had been brilliant all season but then in true North End fashion we failed to beat Colchester away on the final day of the season which meant it was another dip into the lottery that is the play offs (Getting all the clichés in). Famously we had had 9 Play-off campaigns and failed to win a single one of them, so most Preston fans feared the worst.
The play offs started off well with an easy two game victory over Chesterfield with old Leeds favourite, Jermaine Beckford taking centre stage, after that it was on to Wembley. To be honest I couldn’t have planned it any better in my head. 4-0 Win, Beckford hat trick, and 3-0 up at half time! It’ll take a hell of a lot to rival that day… unless of course we can get promoted to the Premier League.
Tell us about a player that you were proud to have on the back of a shirt? if you didn’t is there one you wished you would have.
Growing up David Nugent was always my favourite player and when I finally got his shirt for my birthday I was over the moon! I think he is probably the main reason I love North end as much as I do, so when he got called up to the England squad I think I wore that shirt every day until the game.
So yeah, David Nugent is definitely that player for me!
What’s your most memorable match playing Leeds?
Ask any Preston fan and it has to be the 4-6 at Elland Road! I remember being at the game furious that we were so far behind at half time but the second half is probably the most surreal forty five minutes of football that I have ever witnessed. Crowd favourite Jon Parkin played like a man possessed that night and the crowd noise when he scored his hat trick goal is still something I can remember clearly!
If we could have a repeat of that on Tuesday night then I guess I would settle for that!!
Are you happy with your dealings in this summer’s transfer market?
In short, no. We had the opportunity, after coming so close last season to kick on and cement ourselves as a serious play-off contender this season but the higher ups at the club have limited Alex Neil in terms of what he can spend, and that has somewhat annoyed our fan base. The foundations are all in place to have a fantastic young squad, were just missing that final piece of the puzzle and to see another summer go by without investment is thoroughly disappointing.
We sold Jordan Hugill to West Ham in January for close to £10m and none of that has been reinvested into the playing squad. We are crying out for a striker who can score the goals that we lacked last season but for whatever reason the club seem reluctant to go out and spend the money. It’s only a matter of time until offers start coming in for the likes of Alan Browne, Ben Pearson etc. and without going to that next level I’m afraid that we will have no choice but to let them move on.
What’s your realistic aim for the season?
We’ve had a very tough start and have been a bit hit and miss in front of goal but regardless of that I still think we will come good eventually, and the play-offs should be the aim this season. We have come close the past two seasons and I think this year we really need to kick on.
The only concern, and it goes back to the point above is the lack of investment in the side. I still think we are one or two players away from making it but there’s no reason why we can’t have a go. I think between 5-8th is realistic for us this season.
Who in your mind is going to be promoted this season?
Middlesbrough and Leeds will be up there, I’m certain of that. A quick plug for our Championship Podcast, @ChampionshipPod, we discussed this very topic on Episode 1 of this season. I think Middlesbrough have one of the best squads on paper and also a manager who has a wealth of experience at this level and above so I think they will be well in the mix.
Leeds, I think will do very well under Bielsa, a manager will a wealth of experience. The only question mark for me with Leeds is will they do what they do each year where they run out of steam by Christmas. I think under Bielsa though that you’ll be fine and I expect you to challenge for the Automatics for me.
Apart from that I think West Brom and Swansea will be close but it will be interesting to see how they adapt over the season to championship football.
Can you name your three for relegation this year?
Going off current form, and the squads that they have I think Rotherham, QPR and Ipswich will all struggle.
Rotherham are a team who seem to have yo-yoed between the Championship and League one in recent years, and without big investment I think they will struggle again this season.
Ipswich are an example of a team in need of a change at the top. The have brought in Paul Hirst from Shrewsbury but haven’t backed him enough in the transfer market. He has been working seemingly with his hands tied behind his back, and to gamble by signing lower league and youth players I think that could be a mistake for them in the long run.
QPR – They’ve been in trouble for a while now both financially and on the pitch, and with that I think their luck in this league has run out. I also don’t rate Steve McLaren, and will be shocked if he’s still there by Christmas. I really worry about them this season.
Can you tell us about a rising star in the youth ranks?
Josh Earl stood out last season when he was called up on during Greg Cunningham’s injury lay off and seems one for the future. Ideally for us he should’ve gone out on loan this season to get a consistent run of games but with a relatively small squad we sadly didn’t have that luxury. Given time though I’m sure he will turn into a fantastic left back, and I’m confident that he will start on Tuesday Night.
Prediction and scorers for the game?
We’ve been a bit hit and miss so far this season, and with changes expected for both sides I’m unsure as to how the game will go. Line up wise I would expect whole sale changes for us to able our squad players to get some minutes in so I’d expect us to line up as followed;
Maxwell; Fisher, Clarke, Storey, Earl; Ledson, Johnson, Harrop; Barkhuizen, Moult, Barker.
For scores, I think it will be a close game as it often is when we play each other. Obviously, I’ll be backing Preston to win so I’d say 2-1 but a close game!
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