LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Luke Varney of Portsmouth celebrates his goal during the npower Championship match between West Ham United and Portsmouth at Boleyn Ground on September 10, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
The regular interview with an away fan is back this season with a twist.
I will now be doing a similar but shorter feature for the official match-day programme so all interview with the away fans will be for the away games.
We're hoping to have 23 for each away game and we start with Blackpool FC. I caught up with John from Tangerine Dreaming to get his thoughts on Luke Varney, and the game ahead.A 2-0 win away to Millwall on Saturday...how did you guys play?
I didn’t make the trip myself, but from all accounts the team played well in places, moved the ball around well, created good chances and defended well at times too. All in all a good solid opening day to the season with good signs for further progression.
With the window shutting in 11 days are you happy with the business Holloway has done and do you see any more incoming's/departures before the deadline?
I think the key moves may centre on the future of Matt Phillips, if he goes then Holloway may want to bring in a replacement. Otherwise, if Phillips stays then perhaps the only recruitment will be that of another forward or two. There may be a chance of Stephen Dobbie coming back, but that may hinge on some hard ball negotiations with Swansea and then getting the player to agree to one of our austere contracts. However, it’s likely we may rely on loans to otherwise fill up the squad so the deadline may not be a line in the sand that causes too much consternation.
You came so close to returning to the Premier League last season, can you go all the way this year and how has that experienced effected you?
I see no reason why we can’t repeat last season. The team plays the same and will always create chances. Defensively we probably still need to take things up a notch, but that always appears a secondary consideration with Holloway. At the moment there are no signs of a Reading style hangover from the loss at Wembley, however, our experience is very different. We played well in the final and realized that we had so much to be proud of. It is early in the season though and it would be better to make that judgment after ten games.
Who do we need to watch out for on Tuesday?
Tom Ince. I suspect that Warnock will double up the marking on him and perhaps try to intimidate him in traditional Warnock fashion. However, he’s developing his game so quickly at the moment that he will be very hard to handle. Each game he plays he seems to improve and with that he becomes hard to stop when running with the ball and he will shoot early with accuracy too.
What system will you be playing for the game?
The team will most likely shape up in an attacking 4-2-3-1 with the ball being played out from the back, moved around neatly in midfield before being moved out to the wide areas to utilize the assets of Ince and Phillips. The passing in the midfield will be key, and I’d suspect that Warnock will get some workers in the middle of midfield to press hard from the first whistle to disrupt our rhythm.
What dangers or weaknesses do you see from Leeds United?
I think the key asset I see is the sense of team work from Leeds. I’d expect to see units working hard to close out the space, double up on dangermen and quick sharp attacks when the opportunity comes around. I’d say Leeds may be a little short from options off the bench, so if the game settles in to a rhythm around the hour mark it may be difficult for Warnock to reshape the game to his advantage.
Can we expect a full and loud stadium on Tuesday night?
I’d imagine so, first home game of the season. A Lancashire/Yorkshire mix. Leeds’ vocal support will help to boost the atmosphere too. Perfect mix.
Any Leeds player you would like to snatch away from us?
I think Norwich have done a decent job of taking away some of your quality, but I really like Lee Peltier. A quality right back for this level and a very measured signing by Warnock.
Prediction for the match?
And John's thoughts on Luke Varney:
He started most of his games wide left in a 4-3-3 cutting in on to his right. That's important to note for context of how he played for us. First observation is that he's quick off the mark which gives him a great advantage against most opponents. He's not tricky, so will usually push the ball beyond and chase. It's a method that I suspect will be good at Championship level, however, his control is a little inconsistent which can slow him down once he has beaten his man, plus his vision isn't a key strength. He can rush situations at times.
Aerially he is surprisingly good and although I don't think he scored a goal with his head he did win high balls from goal kicks and long balls from the back. He is however, capable of moments of brilliance backed up with his strike against Wolves which was devastating. However, his finishing is inconsistent and can be frustrating. He started off really well with Blackpool, but lost his way as the season wore on and gradually lost his place in the team. A lot depends on how he is deployed. As a winger in a 4-4-2 I'd say he'd be limited. As a forward in the same system he would be pretty useful paired with a target man looking to get on the end of knockdowns.
The 4-3-3 system at Blackpool really suited him, giving him plenty of options around him and little defensive responsibility. All in all Varney is a good player capable of around eight to ten goals a season and almost certainly one or two of them will be jaw droppers. However, his lack of consistency in all aspects of his game means he's not a player to rely on for a steady stream of goals. If he stays fit, he will give fans more highs than lows and everytime he gets the ball at his feet a chance to get the fans to their feet in anticipation.