Brian McBride is flying over from the States this weekend for the game. I only had half a season with him at Fulham but he was the ultimate professional. Brian was a quiet lad, a family man, who got on with the job in hand. He was a great header of the ball, and did really well for the Club when he was here. He had that dry American banter and was a top guy to have in the changing room and to just be around in general. I’m sure the fans attending the Q&A on Friday will have a great time hearing his stories.
It feels like ages since we were last at the Cottage, and we’re in for a tough game when we’re back there on Saturday as Preston North End are flying high. No disrespect to them, but they’re not a side you’d look at when the season starts and expect to be up there or thereabouts. We’ve only played 11 games so it’s still early but they should be really happy with their start, 20 points is a fantastic return.
Deepdale is a horrible place to go, and the fact they’ve made that a fortress whilst picking up points on the road has meant they’re off to a flier. If they can keep that up there’s no reason why they can’t be in the mix at the end of the season. I’ve said umpteen times in this column that anyone can beat anyone, and that’s evident in Preston and Bristol City’s presence in the top-six, so those will be two tough fixtures for us this month.
Alex Neil took over at Preston in the summer and I’ve been very impressed with how he talks and the way he tries to play football. I thought he did a good job at Norwich, and it looks like he’s carrying that on at Preston. He seems to have a good bunch of lads there who are all fighting for the cause. Once you’ve got that then it’s half the battle won.
Preston have got a very unforgiving defence. Just six goals conceded in 11 matches is nothing short of phenomenal, so my prediction for Saturday is 5-0 to us! I am joking but there were times last season when I was expecting a tight game but then we went and steamrollered teams – Reading and Huddersfield, anyone? We’re due to beat someone by a big goal margin, and it wouldn’t come as a surprise to me if it’s on Saturday because once we click and get into gear, with our pace and power in attack, we’ve got the ability to roll a lot of teams over.
It’s all about gathering momentum. We had loads of momentum after Christmas last season but hopefully we can get it sooner this time, and winning seven points prior to the international break is very promising. If we can keep that up I’m convinced we’ll get a Play-Off spot, if not an automatic place, because I genuinely think we’re good enough to end up top-two, as long as we add that consistency.
We haven’t picked up as many points at the Cottage as we would have liked this season, but this month is a superb opportunity to rectify that, with three of our four fixtures at home. It’s well documented that we’ve let leads slip late on too often, but hopefully after seeing out our last couple of matches on the road means we’re eradicating that from our game. We just need to transfer that to our home fixtures now.A very limited number of tickets remaining for our evening with Brian McBride at the Cottage on Friday night, so don't delay in buying if you want to attend!