Managerial change is something Preston North End midfielder Ben Whiteman has grown used to

Ben Whiteman has had to embrace a managerial change early in his time at Preston North End but that has been something the midfielder has grown used to in his career.

By Dave Seddon
Thursday, 15th April 2021, 12:38 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th April 2021, 12:40 pm

Within a couple of months of Alex Neil bringing him to Deepdale from Doncaster Rovers, Whiteman saw the Scot depart and replaced by Frankie McAvoy.

Interim head coach McAvoy is the ninth boss the 24-year-old has worked under in senior football.

They have ranged from Chris Wilder to Steve Evans all of them offering something different.

Preston North End midfielder Ben Whiteman makes a sliding challenge on Swansea's Morgan Whittaker at the Liberty Stadium

As a student of the game, Whiteman has been keen to learn something from everyone.

Whiteman told the Lancashire Post: “When someone comes in with new, fresh ideas you have to take it board, that is part of being a professional.

“Looking back through my career, experiencing those changes has probably benefited me.

“When you’ve not had that chop and change, you can find it difficult to settle in with a new manager.

Ben Whiteman prepares to take a free-kick in PNE's win against Huddersfield

“At first-team level I have been managed by Nigel Clough, Nigel Adkins, Chris Wilder, Steve Evans, Darren Ferguson, Grant McCann, Darren Moore, Alex Neil and Frankie McAvoy.

“All of them have had their own ideas on how they want you to play the game.

“Steve Evans took me to Mansfield on loan from Sheffield United.

“He is a ‘marmite’ character but I loved him, he kick-started my career in professional football.

“Steve gave me a chance to play, I enjoyed going down to League Two, scrapping away and going to horrible places on a Tuesday night.

“Coming back to the present day, Frankie has been fantastic here, he perked us up when things weren’t going so well.

“He’s come in with his own ideas, going two up top and three at the back.

“Against Norwich he played a diamond, he’s been prepared to look at different things.

“They have in the main paid off apart from against Brentford who I thought were a class above.

“We got a bit of a schooling from them but I don’t want to dwell on that too much, we need to look ahead to what is next in front of us.”

Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium are next for North End on Saturday lunchtime (12.30pm).

The trip to the Potteries is quickly followed by the visit of Derby to Deepdale on Tuesday night.

Then it is Coventry at St Andrew’s – the Sky Blues’ temporary borrowed home – a week on Saturday.

You would hope by the end of that trio of games that PNE would one way or another have ensured Championship safety.

Whiteman said: “We take it one game at a time and all eyes are on Stoke at the moment.

“Once we have played Stoke we’ll move on to the next one.

“This is a crucial spell coming up and hopefully we’ll get the points which we need.”

Whiteman still awaits his first goal in a Preston shirt after 16 starts and two appearances from the substitutes’ bench.

In the first half of the season he scored eight goals for Doncaster, three of them penalties.

He bagged 25 for Donny in total, scoring seven in his loan at Mansfield before that.

So goals in the lower divisions formed a big part of his game.

Whiteman said: “In the first part here I was playing a bit deeper.

“At Donny I tended to play in a two rather than me just sitting.

“When you are the main sitting midfielder it is important to screen the back four and break up the opposition’s play.

“That probably stopped me getting forward.

“I’ve had chances to score here. There was the free-kick against Rotherham which hit the post and then the keeper on the back – if that had gone in it would have been the keeper’s own goal.

“I had one on my left foot at Sheffield Wednesday which I should have done a bit better with.”

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