Cottagers Confidential: It's been a long time since Fulham and Preston North End have faced off. Fulham fans might not know much about this current version of the club, or your manager (it must be nice to have a manager). Could you sum up what style of football they play and what the expectations are for this season?
Lilywhite Magic: After being promoted last season, expectations aren’t very high. As anyone can see, all three promoted clubs are finding things difficult at the moment. That and considering the budget other clubs have (especially since they have Premiership parachute payments) the main expectation has to be survival.We aren’t ones to get ahead of ourselves and we certainly aren’t arrogant – a lot of us tend to be realists!
The style of football we play isn’t at all pretty. Simon Grayson has made us hard to beat – as anyone can see, we don’t concede many goals. That’s all well and good but it results in us playing some dull football - we can contain sides well but when it comes to mounting attacks, it largely results in us punting balls up field and hoping Joe Garner can do his best (we have too much reliance on him and our midfield don’t provide enough support).
So, overall whilst Grayson’s tactics are effective at containing the opposition, they don’t provide much excitement-wise – this also being backed up by the lack of goals scored.
CC: I'll be eternally grateful to Preston for bringing Brian McBride to England. Without them doing that, Fulham may never have signed him. Are there any current players on the squad that Fulham should look to poach?
LM: We don’t have a number of highly talented players, but what we do have is honest players who give 100% every game (a bit of a cliché, I know!).
As mentioned, our main strength is our defence and in my opinion one or best players is Bailey Wright. He’s vastly improved over the last year and he’s a very solid centre back – some of his tackling is superb. He’s certainly one player that would do well for Fulham and he’s also establishing himself as a key player for Australia. Having said that, there is the odd occasion where he lets himself down, such as being sent off against Blackburn last week.
CC: If you were managing against Preston, how would you set up a team to beat them?
LM: We’d certainly be frustrating to play against given how (as I mentioned) we’re quite good at containing teams. It’s worth noting the number of 0-0 draws we’ve had! How would I set up against Preston? Well given all I have said about us, it would be best hitting us on the break. Our attacks tend to be hopeless balls forward or a poor final ball into the box. Quickly closing us down (which would be simple enough) and having an extra burst of pace would catch us out.
CC: Predicted Lineup and scoreline?
LM: For the line-up, I would largely expect it to be more or less the same as against Blackburn although perhaps a couple of changes, especially since Bailey Wright is suspended. If Woods is fit, I’d expect the line up to be:
Pickford, Woods, Clarke, Huntington, Cunningham, Reach, Browne, Gallagher, Johnson, May, Garner.
Ideally, I’d prefer it if Browne was also dropped in favour of John Welsh.
My prediction: 1-1