Date:Thursday August 21 2008
As the Owls prepare to take on Preston North End on Saturday, we talk to Vital Preston journalist Graham about PNE's start to the season and their expectations...
1. What are your expectations for the season?
After last seasons debacle which saw us spending a large proportion of the season rooted to the foot of the table I think most Preston fans would have expected and be grateful of a nice uneventful season of midfield indifference. However under our new manager Alan Irvine we are looking resurgent and if I`m honest I`m expecting us to finish a little higher up the table maybe top ten. There are many many teams in the division that will be harboring the same hopes as us but we have started brightly, hopefully we can keep it up.
2. Who've been the major movers and shakers at Deepdale in the pre-season?
It has been very static at Deepdale in the window. It seems like there is a bit of a log jam in the transfer market at the moment, waiting for the domino effect of one transfer triggering off a glut of others. We have brought in Barry Nicholson who we signed on a Bosman, a right sided midfielder from Aberdeen. Although small in stature he can strike a ball and land a cross on a sixpence. We have drafted in Ross Wallace a speedy left winger from Sunderland on loan. He hasn't really featured yet due to lack of fitness but looked the business when he played in the cup. Our only outgoing was Kevin Nicholls released so he could sign for Luton, he was a waste of 750,000 plus wages.
3. What do you make of your manager - right man for the job?
I usually make predictions with caution but I'm going to be bold here and say an astounding YES. He has the players fit, shows tactical nous, is good in the press, has brought in good players but most of all, importantly for the fans, he saved us last season with gritty displays and now he has us playing good attacking football.
4. What has your start to the season been like?
Excellent to be frank, can't fault it. Preseason played eight, won five, drew two and lost one. We scored 22 goals and conceded four. In the league we beat Ipswich 2-1 away on the opening day, defeated Chesterfield 2 - 0 at Deepdale in the cup and beat Crystal Palace by the same margin in the league. We look really good at the moment, with lots of good attacks coming from midfield. Maybe one area of concern from the first couple of games would be we have been playing pretty deep, especially when in front, inviting waves of pressure, but that is nit picking really.
5. Who are your key players?
Can I have three? Neil Mellor is a real threat upfront. He has speed, strength and a real eye for goal plus he looks fitter than ever before, He hasn't opened his account in the league yet, but bagged a brace in the cup, he is a true predator and with good service will be very dangerous. Our midfield threat is Richard Chaplow, the former WBA midfielder. He has shown he knows where the net is already this term and is a real tenacious energetic force in the engine room. Finally our defensive key is Sean St. Ledger. If anyone watched 'Big Ron Manager' on Sky One he was the smartarse upstart giving the Peterborough Manager grief. Well I feel he has matured into his role as the keystone of our defence. Calm and athletic he often turns defence into attack with penetrating charges and through balls.
6. If you could take one player to Preston from Wednesday who would it be and why?
I like the look of Etiënne Esajas although I think he could maybe be one of those players that flatters to deceive opposition fans for two games a season, though if you watched him week in week out the novelty may wear off. I have heard good reports about young Beevers though I don't particularly remember him standing out.
7. And if you could send one from Preston to Wednesday?
Probably Jason Jarret, the loan ranger, no matter where we ship him out to, he always comes back, usually earlier than usual for one 'incident' or another. To be fair he looks like he is working hard to win a place at Preston but if I thought he could stay at a club for any length of time I would kick him there myself
8. What's your most memorable Wednesday v Preston game?
Probably our 1-0 win last season, as it was our first victory, coming in mid September. I thought that once we had finally scrapped and rode our luck to get a win under our belt in that game the players could relax and our season would truly begin, how wrong I was.
9. What do you make of our chances this season?
Pretty much the same as us I would say, better than last year I would think with hopes for the top ten. I think making predictions in the Championship is nigh on impossible, there will always be a few surprises at both ends of the league, hopefully we will be a surprise at the right end.
10. What's your prediction for Saturday?
I'll go 2-1 to Northend, with Mellor scoring for us, reckon it could be a cagey affair though.
Best of luck for the season, except for against Northend!
Cheers Graham - same to you.
NEXT UP - SWANSEA CITY...
You can see what's going on in the opposition camp by visiting Vital Preston by CLICKING HERE
Date:Thursday August 21 2008
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