UP FOR THE CUP

A look ahead to Pre­ston and Brad­ford’s big FA Cup ties

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy Do­nate to Simon: https://www.just­giv­ing.com/ Simon-Grayson2015/ Web­site: http://www.prostate­can­ceruk. org/me­nunited

PRE­STON boss Simon Grayson is bank­ing on a dou­ble dose of di­vine in­ter­ven­tion when Manch­ester United visit Deep­dale in the FA Cup to­mor­row night.

The fifth round clash – the first time the il­lus­tri­ous duo have met in 43 years – falls on the first an­niver­sary of the death of Deep­dale leg­end, Sir Tom Fin­ney.

Yet more poignantly for Grayson, it is also the first big match of his 30-year ca­reer to be missed by best mate Steve Gar­bett.

Gar­bett, a for­mer Eng­land youth player and FA tal­ent scout, died in Septem­ber fol­low­ing a ten-year battle with prostate can­cer.

Grayson will ride from Lon­don to Am­s­ter­dam in his mem­ory this sum­mer but, for one night at least, is hop­ing his old pal can dole out a bit of char­ity.

“I met Garby on a coach­ing course at Leeds when I was 17 and we were friends ever since then,” says the for­mer Leeds and Hud­der­s­field boss.

“He was 62 when he died, so rel­a­tively young by to­day’s stan­dards. He had lots of dif­fer­ent types of treat­ment but to­wards the end there was noth­ing more they could do. To go on so long was re­mark­able re­ally.

“I miss him a lot. I even miss his crit­i­cism. He al­ways thought he could do bet­ter than me, even when I was play­ing in the Pre­mier League! He fol­lowed my ca­reer through thick and thin. As a player, as a manager, he was al­ways there and he’d cer­tainly have been there to­mor­row night.

“Hope­fully he’s look­ing down on us. And with it be­ing Sir Tom’s an­niver­sary too, I’m hop­ing be­tween the two of them they can get to­gether and sort some­thing out.”

The ex­pe­ri­ence of los­ing such a close friend will also in­flu­ence Grayson’s pre-match team talk.

“Life’s too short to worry about things at work. Your health and hap­pi­ness – those are the things that re­ally mat­ter,” he added. “That’s what we’ll be say­ing to the play­ers ahead of this game and ev­ery other game.

“Go out, ex­press your­self and en­joy ev­ery minute be­cause there are a mil­lion worse ways to spend your days than run­ning around on a foot­ball pitch.”

Ab­sence

Or not run­ning around a foot­ball pitch in the case of Joe Gar­ner. Pre­ston’s 14-goal top scorer suf­fered a de­tached ten­don in Novem­ber and his ab­sence co­in­cided with a seven-match win­less run that saw Pre­ston fall off the pace.

How­ever, a 3-1 victory over cup kings Sh­effield United in the fourth round re­play at the start of Fe­bru­ary sparked a three-game win­ning streak – capped in mid­week by two goals for the re­turn­ing Gar­ner. And with Cal­lum Robin­son also back on loan from As­ton Villa to

bol­ster the for- ward line, the Li­ly­whites will tackle the Pre­mier League gi­ants with their strong­est squad in months.

“We lost Joe, we lost Cal­lum, we lost Jer­maine Beck­ford,” says Grayson. “We ba­si­cally lost all our at­tack­ing op­tions. It was tough, but Joe’s re­turn is a huge boost for ev­ery­one at the club.”

Sev­eral pun­dits – in­clud­ing Pre­ston fan Mark Lawrenson – have tipped the Deep­dale out­fit to cause a shock. Yet Grayson, 45, who fa­mously turfed Fergie’s men out of the com­pe­ti­tion whilst man­ag­ing Leeds, isn’t hav­ing it.

“I watched them against Burn­ley this week and yes, they didn’t play to their best. But when you’ve got An­gel Di Maria, Radamel Fal­cao,Wayne Rooney, Robin van Per­sie… they have an end­less list of world-class play­ers who can hurt any­one.

“Peo­ple are say­ing they aren’t hav­ing the best of sea­sons but they’ve lost one of their last 18 games. Not many teams go on a run like that.

“We know if they play to their max­i­mum there’s not much we can do. But we do feel they have weak­nesses we can ex­ploit. And if they have an off day, we’ve got a chance.”

BEST MATES: Pre­ston boss Simon Grayson and, inset, Steve Gar­bett

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