‘You can trust me’ – that is the message to Preston North End supporters from new first-team coach Steve Thompson.
Eyebrows were certainly raised this week when the former caretaker manager of North End’s bitter rivals Blackpool replaced the popular John Dreyer on Simon Grayson’s backroom team.
Thompson spent nearly a decade at Bloomfield Road in various coaching capacities after retiring from playing in 2002.
Starting off with the club’s school of excellence in 2005, the 50-year-old went on to take up a number of positions on the first-team coaching staff at Bloomfield Road – working under several different managers, including Grayson.
On two occasions, he became the club’s temporary manager after the departure of Ian Holloway in 2012 and ex-PNE star Michael Appleton a year later.
He eventually severed all ties with the club at the beginning of last year after Paul Ince was fired.
Despite his long association with North End’s deadliest of rivals, Thompson assured supporters that his loyalties are totally with PNE now.
“I had no qualms about coming here,” he said.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity and I will give the job 110%, like I have done at every club I have been at – you can trust me.
“I like to think I am good at my job and that’s why I have come here to Preston, to help make the club successful.”
Having won promotion to the Premier League as a player with Leicester in 1994 and as a coach with Blackpool in 2010, Thompson understands what it takes to be successful in the Championship. He sees no reason why North End cannot achieve the Holy Grail of reaching the Premier League, although achieving that aim next season might be a step too soon.
“Getting to the Premier League – that has got to be the main aim,” he said.
“But you have got to be realistic – there are a lot of big clubs in the Championship.
“I know, though, that once you get on a roll in this division and you get the lads playing in the style that you want, then you’ve got a chance.
“Once you do that, you go into games not fearing anyone.
“You have to make sure the players are enjoying it and that when they go out on to the pitch, they do the things that they are good at.
“But like I say, it is a very tough league and everyone is striving to get into the Premier League.
“Everybody wants to test themselves at the highest level as players and as staff.
“We are no different here at Preston.
“We’ll be looking to raise the bar after winning promotion from League One.
“From what I’ve seen since I’ve been here, everybody will be striving to do that.”
Meanwhile, North End are hopeful of announcing their first signing of the summer in the next few days.
Club officials are deep in negotiations with regard to four players, who are all contracted to other clubs.
Grayson is keen to bring in a new goalkeeper and striker, as well as bolstering the full-back positions.