BIG INTERVIEW: Preston North End’s new keeper coach Mike Pollitt on his journey to Deepdale

As one door closed in football coaching another one opened for Mike Pollitt, with just a short gap in between.

By Dave Seddon
Friday, 31st July 2020, 4:45 pm

Pollitt was appointed this week as Preston North End’s new goalkeeping coach, succeeding Jonathan Gould who is returning to live in New Zealand – and turn his hand to farming.

It is less than a month since 48-year-old Pollitt left home-town club Bolton Wanderers, his move there earlier in the season not working out how he would have imagined it.

He had taken calls from clubs over the last few weeks about potential job offers, then North End came calling out of the blue.

Mike Pollitt lifts the FA Cup during his time with Wigan Athletic

“I got a call late last week from Peter Ridsdale, asking if I’d like to meet,” said Pollitt.

“The meeting got brought forward to last Saturday morning, I sat down with Alex Neil and Peter for a couple of hours.

“It went really well, we all got on and pretty much things got agreed then.

“To get the chance to be a goalkeeping coach in the Championship was great, it was something I backed myself to do and I spoke about that when I met Alex and Peter.

Saving penalty at Highbury from Jose Antonio Reyes during the Carling Cup semi-final second leg

“So here I am, training starts in a couple of weeks and I’m really looking forward to getting started.

“This week I had a chat with Gouldy, we talked about the keepers and what to expect. He was giving me any help he could.

“Gouldy has decided to go back to New Zealand and have a new life there.

“In the last few weeks I’d had quite a few calls from League One and League Two clubs, which I didn’t really fancy.

Mike Pollitt at Deepdale (photo: PNE FC)

“So to be in the Championship is very exciting, at a club which has been challenging at the top end for a few years now.”

North End will be the fourth club where Pollitt has worked as keeper coach.

He did so at Wigan, making the progression from player to the coaching staff. From there he went to Rotherham – another club he had served a player – and then landed at Bolton in December last year.

That was a short-lived move, six months or so with football’s shutdown eating into half of it.

“I would not have left Rotherham for just anywhere,” said Pollitt.

“Bolton was the club I had supported as a kid, I’m a Bolton lad and maybe my heart ruled my head.

“They were bottom of the table with the points deduction because of their financial situation.

“It was a tough decision to leave Rotherham and their manager Paul Warne who is a very special person.

“Going to Bolton just didn’t work out. I’m not bitter about it.

“When Ian Evatt took over as manager at the start of July he wanted to bring his own staff in, which I quite understand.

“I left Bolton on good terms – that’s football as they say. Fortunately Preston have offered me this chance and I’m determined to make the best of it.

“I’m coming in to work with the goalkeepers and I’ll offer to help out in any way I can.

“I have heard so many positive things about Preston, it will be a good place to come in and work.

“There are some good goalkeepers to work with.

“Declan Rudd played every league game this season – not many players do that these days. I don’t know Declan yet personally but it is obvious he keeps himself very fit and in top condition to be available for all 46 games.

“There is Connor Ripley and Mathew Hudson too, who will be pushing Declan.

“We will soon get to know one another and I’m sure they will enjoy my work.

“I’m a hard-working coach – that is a given.

“My sessions are quite tough but at the right times we’ll have a laugh. I’ve got a good work ethic and the lads here have that too.

“There’s the technical side of being a keeper to work on, the positioning.

“Sometimes there might be things to talk about one to one. The job is help the lads improve and have them right for the game on the Saturday afternoon or the Tuesday night.”

There will be some familiar faces at Springfields when Pollitt first reports in for duty.

“I know Steve Thompson, the first-team coach, from years back,” said Pollitt.

“We were team-mates at Rotherham and used to travel in together.

“Scott Sinclair was on loan at Wigan when I was there, while Josh Earl was at Bolton last season when I moved there.

“When I was keeper coach at Rotherham, Darnell Fisher was there.

“There’s always a link somewhere in football, you recognise someone .

“Ritchie Barker, who I worked with at Rotherham, was a team-mate of Alex Neil at Mansfield in their playing days. At Wigan I was team-mates with James McCarthy and James McArthur who had been at Hamilton with Alex.

“You talk to people and at some point or another you find something in common.

“I’ve played many times at Deepdale over the years for a few clubs so it will be nice to go there as a member of Preston’s coaching staff.

“It’s a new club for me, a fresh start and I can’t wait to get started.”