Friday, November 23, 2007

Preston preview

Saturday's game offers the rare chance for the coverage-starved foreign legion of Charlton fans to watch their team live. I suspect the pub landlord will not need to refresh his knowledge of the health and safety regulations concerning overcrowding.

One's perspective on Preston North End is very much a generational thing. Anyone who began following football since the 1960s probably views them as another middling northern club (think Burnley, Wigan, Hull etc..) whose ground you'll never get to.

The older generation remembers the likes of Sir Tom Finney, and a high-flying team who (like Charlton) had their finest days either side of the Second World War. Indeed, how many other teams have a separate entry on Wikipedia outlining their history in greater detail?

In more recent years, having won League One in 2000, Preston have regularly competed for promotion to the Premiership, most notably losing out to Alan Pardew's West Ham in the 2005 play-off final. Their consecutive and impressive finishes since 2000 of 4th, 8th, 12th, 15th, 5th, 4th and 7th, are testament to the work particularly of two of the game's most outstanding managers (Billy Davies and David Moyes). Their stability is perhaps also due to the absence of a financially destabilising temporary spell in the top-tier.

However this season has witnessed a worrying loss of form (especially away from home). The inevitable dismissal of Paul Simpson followed, a coach who on paper at least, appeared to be another promising young leader who could use Preston as a stepping stone to greater things. Now in a rare example of the small club biting back at the big clubs, they have recruited Alan Irvine from Everton, offering the Scot his first shot at management.

New managers win a disproportionate number of their first games in charge, but with the momentum firmly behind Charlton, we have a great chance to improve our League position, not least with WBA meeting Wolves, and Watford facing a tricky fixture at Barnsley. There would appear little reason for us to change a winning side, so Pards will surely opt for the same eleven that beat Cardiff a fortnight ago.

Having correctly pointed out in a previous post that the bookies had got the first goalscorer odds on Sam Sodje completely wrong, it is curious to note that he remains a best-priced 33/1 to repeat the his feat versus Cardiff. Like any good investment, this is one to keep pushing hard until the bookies catch up with reality (in the meantime someone at Stan James might explain how Jose Semedo can be just 20/1 in the same market - 66/1 would be about right).

NY Addick predicts: Preston 1 (Ormerod), Charlton 3 (Sodje, Reid, Varney). Att: 11, 205.


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