Grayson targeting Man Utd double

Published: Sunday 15th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Simon Grayson is looking to pull off a notable double when Manchester United visit Preston in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Monday.

Grayson was the manager of Leeds five years ago when they stunned United 1-0 in the third round, ending a near 30-year wait for a victory at Old Trafford.

It is 43 years since Preston have faced the Red Devils and more than 55 years since their last win but, having done it once, Grayson sees no reason why he cannot oversee another shock.

He said: “Every time I go to Leeds people remind me about it. It’s a different football club, different personnel, but I’ll draw from the experience and what a great feeling it was to win at Old Trafford that day.

“You don’t get the opportunity to do that very often. I want to try to replicate that if possible. You have to have that belief that you can do it.”

Leeds’ match-winner, Jermaine Beckford, rejoined his old manager on loan from Bolton in November but his chances of more heroics have been scuppered by an ear infection.

“It’s affected his balance and he’s been having dizzy spells. It actually might make him a little bit brighter and better as a person but he’ll be unavailable for the game unfortunately,” said Grayson with a smile.

“It would have been a fantastic fairytale if he’d been available for us. We were contemplating trying to sign Jonny Howson to find him with a pass!”

Not that Preston are short of a goal threat.

At 37, Kevin Davies remains a player more than capable of making life uncomfortable for Premier League defences while Paul Gallagher’s five goals make him the competition’s leading scorer this season.

But it is Joe Garner of whom United will probably be most wary.

The 26-year-old has scored 14 times this season, including a brace against Chesterfield on Tuesday on his first start since suffering a shin injury in November.

Grayson said: “He’s our talisman and to have him back gave everybody a boost.

“We haven’t rushed him back and it’s as if he’s never been away. He was moaning at me the other night when I took him off with 10 minutes to go because he wanted to get a hat-trick, and that’s the mark of a player.

“I’m sure if Manchester United’s players are not aware of him at this moment, come Monday night they will be because he ruffles a few feathers.”

United and manager Louis van Gaal may be under the microscope over their style of play at the moment but Grayson is well aware there remains a huge gap between the top of League One and the top of the Premier League.

After three successive wins, the Lilywhites do not lack confidence, though, and Grayson said of the challenge: ” I think it’s got to inspire them.

“You’ve got to go into a game like this and enjoy it. Our players may never get the chance to play against the likes of Falcao, Rooney, Van Persie etc again.

“The one thing you have to say to them before they go out is have no regrets. We know the task that’s against us because of what they are and what they’re capable of doing but we’ve got nothing to lose and they’ve got everything to lose.

“There’s always one shock, there’s always a hero, and hopefully it’s going to be a Preston North End player.”

Should Preston pull off the upset, it would be fitting timing, with the game coming just two days after the first anniversary of the death of their greatest ever player, Sir Tom Finney.

Finney was in the team when North End reached the final in 1954, 16 years after they lifted the trophy for the second and last time.

“This football club has got fantastic history and tradition,” said Grayson. “It’s quite poignant that this weekend is the first anniversary of his death so it would be a fantastic way to mark what he did for this football club.”

The Preston boss, meanwhile, is also preparing to take part in a bicycle ride from London to Amsterdam in June in aid of Prostate Cancer UK.

Grayson’s best friend, Stephen Garbett, died from the disease last September.

Published: Sunday 15th February 2015 by The News Editor

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