City revisit an old flame this weekend. Andy Lawn spoke to PNE fan Aaron (@chaospjere_pne) ahead of a league encounter that matters a lot more to the Lilywhites than their visitors.
Andy: Lets kick off with the obvious, the play offs - can you?
Aaron: Do I dare to dream!?!?! There's 7 teams fighting for 2 places and we've got Norwich, Blades away and Burton at home...win all 3 and we may just be in with a shout.
That's not the easiest run, it could certainly be harder but still, only one game you'd say is a banker (no comment about which). Alex Neil does love a big game though so there's that... I imagine the Scot's stock is pretty high at the moment?
You'd think so but there is definitely a vocal minority that isn't sold on him yet and I think part of that is some of the baffling bad results we've had against teams we quote "should be beating", the loss to Reading more recently being one of those.
For me he's done a great job really when you look at the level of investment we've made (almost none) and the loss of Jordan Hugill to West Ham in January. Thing is for a lot of fans they're looking at the last few seasons finishes which both times has been 11th place on 62 points. We could well place the same again although currently we've surpassed previous seasons points totals
I think all managers will have to put up with that in this era of "give me constant success NOW". The loss of Hugill seemed a big one, no pun intended, but you seem to have just carried on. Who's picked up the goalscoring baton?
Seany Maguire!! He's been on a real tear since his return from injury and is becoming a real fans favourite.
It's been surprising that we haven't felt the loss of the Hugill at all really. He always struck me as one of those brilliant donkeys that can score great goals one minute and be the utter drizzling shits the next. Could never fault his work rate though!
Turning the focus on Norwich - has Farke let go of 4-2-3-1 yet? We could be in for another nullifying battle for a draw like earlier this season.
Hugill's move to West Ham certainly felt like that to me. One good championship season and then a jump up too soon.
Farke changes it up pretty often. We had a solid spell playing 3-4-2-1 but then injuries stripped us of an entire midfield so we went to a kind of 4-1-3-1-1. We're still super stodgy though so 0-0 won't be long odds.
Alex Neil still letting his FBs play with reckless abandon? If so, Josh Murphy is hitting a nice patch of form and could be in for an enjoyable afternoon...
Oh I if you're putting a bet on you may as well go for Ben Pearson to be booked as well - 15 so far this season!
The North End fans prediction league as of right now has an overwhelming majority going for a home win scoring 2 or 3.
Has Murphy learnt how to reach his target from a cross yet? If he has we should probably be worried. Then again with us being top of the booking league, someone will probably just gnarl him every time he gets forward. We haven't picked up 95 yellow cards this season for nothing
95 is quite an achievement well played. Putting pennies on Pearson getting 16 immediately...
Murphy isn't really a crosser no. He can spank a shot off though and after his Villa cracker, his confidence is sky high.
I would caution against such optimism of a comfy home win. We're away day shithousers and will annoy the fuck out of you. We nearly made Chris Wilder cry.
How's the atmosphere been at Deepdale this season? Support for safestanding appears strong in the NW generally, same true at PNE?
It's improved for sure but we aren't pulling big crowds still so it's not comparable to some of the games against teams that can bring big away followings or when we've played big prem teams.
I know a lot of North Enders who are keen on getting safe standing added to the Town End but with West Brom's plan being rejected I think it's a step backwards. Would you want some safe standing in the Barclay?
I think we will have to play to our maximum over the next 3 games because taking Norwich as a team with nothing to play for, especially with the away record you mentioned, or even worse - needing a win over Burton and overlooking them would be hard to take.
Both City fans and crucially the club are very pro safestanding and the Barclay seems the obvious place for it. I'm personally hopeful that the petition (at 73,000 signatures at the time of writing) coupled with increasingly public support from the club's it's a case of when, not if. Delia and co deserve a lot of credit for being proactive in pushing this forward.
So on to Saturday and then the run in. After all said and done above, what's your prediction for this weekend and into May?
I have to believe so I'm going a North End win by 1 goal and come the end of the season I'd love for us to sneak in 6th place, you never know! Seen the run ins for Boro, Millwall, Derby, Sheff Utd and Brentford? They're all either playing each other or teams above so there's only us or Brizzle Sizzle with winnable runs.
I'm sorry to say I think we might mess it all up for you by snatching a win Saturday.
I'll go 1-0 City.
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