At home with… Preston duo Paul Gallagher and Daniel Johnson

Paul Gallagher and Daniel Johnson discussed a wide range of topics as Sky Sports joined the Preston pair at home.

Gary Weaver and Andy Hinchcliffe spoke to the duo reaching the Championship top six, set-pieces and much, much more.

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On breaking into the Championship top six…

Gallagher: “It had to be what we were aiming for. We came from League One five years ago, consolidated well and during the manager’s first season we just missed out on the play-offs finishing seventh. Last season we had a number of injuries and suspension issues that we have managed to calm down. We have got players who have come from lower leagues who are probably playing at their maximum every week because we cannot compete with other teams in this division financially. But we have got a manager who can get the best out of those players.”

Johnson: “It has been tough, I will tell you that. We all know how relentless the Championship is with the amount of games we are playing and how tough it is on the body. We have had injury problems but that’s just football, isn’t it? You put your body on the line every single day. But if we had not had so many injuries at a crucial time, like we did, I am sure that we would have been higher in the league than we are. At some points this season, we were sitting first or second in the league but things change so quickly in football. Now we are in a really good position and it’s in our hands.”

On Alex Neil’s coaching style…

Gallagher: “He’s a hands-on coach who wants to be involved in all the tactical stuff when we are preparing for a game. When he first came, he was very intense but I think he now understands his players, how to treat them and his man-management skills are very good. He’s a joy to work for and I think all the lads would say the same.

“The training is difficult and intense because that’s the way he wants us to play. If you look at where we were under Simon Grayson – who did a fantastic job – we were more of a counter-attacking team but now under the new gaffer we are on the front foot, pressing from the front, wanting to win the ball high up and it’s a good place to be.”

Johnson: “Over the last couple of years we have shown how relentless we can be and I think there is more to come. We have matured and we are now in a place where we know what it’s going to take to get over the line. He’s had to tweak a few things and, luckily for us, it’s been working.”

On being the set-piece takers in the team…

Gallagher: “I practise my free-kick routine every day – it’s something I have always done since I was a young player and it’s something I take pride in. I will take a few balls out after training and I’ll be the last one back into the complex for dinner because I’m outside practising, even at this age. The penalty routine is something I came up with and it’s served me really well. Daniel and I have got that relationship where whoever fancies it takes and, I believe, whoever takes it will put it in the back of the net.”

Johnson: “We have a look at each other when we are awarded a penalty. Sometimes I will give him the nod and let him have it and sometimes he will give me the nod – it just depends who wants it. We have both showed that we are more than capable of stepping up and putting the ball in the net with no problems but we just share the responsibility. We got one in the first half away at Bristol City and I let Paul have it and then he returned the favour in the second half.”

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