Jonathan Gould’s arrival back at Preston North End this week as goalkeeping coach came out of the blue but seemed to be universally welcomed.
Gould, 51, spent two years as a player with North End between 2003 and 2005, signed from Celtic by Craig Brown and continuing to play under Billy Davies.
He is back at Deepdale via a stint as a player at Hereford and coaching jobs which took him to New Zealand, Australia and back to these shores with West Bromwich Albion and Middlesbrough.
The keeper coach role at PNE has been one to change hands – or gloves – over the last couple of years.
Alan Kelly’s were big boots to fill, Kelly leaving two years ago early in the reign of Alex Neil.
Dean Kiely replaced Kelly but lasted only four months before getting the offer to move to the Premier League with Crystal Palace – he had kept his family home down south and the move made sense.
So since January 2018 the role of keeper coach has been entrusted to Jack Cudworth who was previously PNE’s academy keeper coach.
Cudworth, a likeable and bubbly character, has in his time in the job worked hard to develop his trade.
He’s visited Manchester City and Rangers to see how the keepers are coached there.
Rightly or wrongly, there has been a perception among some fans that Cudworth lacked experience at this level.
That appears to be have borne out by the appointment of Gould last Sunday.
Speaking on Monday at the press conference ahead of the Bradford game, Neil spoke of this being the right time to bring in experience on the coaching staff.
Cudworth remains on the staff and will work with Gould, although Neil did speak of a change of role.
Now that Gould has come in, it will be interesting to see how the keepers fare and how they develop.
When there has been a mistake between the posts, the keeper coach issue often cropped up.
That line of questioning has now been taken away, the keepers working with Gould who has been around the block both as a player and a coach.
Ironically, the news of his appointment came just 24 hours after Declan Rudd had produced his best display in a long time in the 3-0 victory against Wigan.
Rudd has established himself as first choice again, nudging to the top during the pre-season campaign.
The way things were early in pre-season, I sensed it might be Connor Ripley starting the campaign.
I could be completely wrong but from the outside looking in, with which games Ripley and Rudd were picked for, it seemed like January buy Ripley would get the nod.
Perhaps that mistake in the Southampton game did him no favours, Rudd then getting the gloves for the visit of Newcastle a week later.
In between those two games at Deepdale, Rudd played against Accrington and Ripley at Fleetwood.
Rudd was criticised for Millwall’s winner on the first day of the season, questions asked about whether he should have got a stronger glove to Jed Wallace’s shot.
Neil stuck with him for the Wigan game and saw that faith pay off as he pulled off two top-drawer saves in the space of a couple of minutes in the first half.
Three or four more saves came after the break, those somewhat more routine but needed to be made all the same.
Rudd got the night off at Bradford on Tuesday, Ripley starting that one as Neil flipped the squad for the League Cup clash.
Such was PNE’s control of the first half, Ripley in effect had part of the night off too.
He was a touch busier in the second half but nothing to particularly stretch him, the one scare being a shot which beat him and bounced back off the bar.
As well as Ripley and Rudd, Gould has Michael Crowe and Mathew Hudson to work with.
Crowe was on the bench at Bradford, with Hudson sat in the stand.
Surely one of those two needs to go out on loan to get some games?
It’s three-and-a-half years since Hudson’s appearance from the bench at Leeds when Jordan Pickford had been sent off.
He went out on loan to Bury last season but played only four EFL Trophy games.
Hudson is useful to have around as a home-grown player – EFL rules state that one player in a matchday 18 has to have come through a club’s academy.
PNE had Ben Davies and Josh Earl who could fill that criteria last season, now it’s down to Davies after Earl was loaned to Bolton.
There are the first-year pros who could be drafted into the squad but the plan does seem to be to try and get them loan moves.
Sticking with the keeper theme, well done Andrew Lonergan on getting a Super Cup winners’ medal with Liverpool.
Going from being a free agent to joining Liverpool’s squad is an excellent turn of fortune.
Lonergan incidentally took to Twitter to back the appointment of Gould by Preston. The pair were team-mates at Deepdale, then last season were reunited when Middlesbrough signed Lonergan.