Why ex-Preston North End midfielder Paul Coutts turned his back on possible Premier League stint

Former Preston midfielder Paul Coutts has no regrets about sacrificing a first Premier League campaign with Sheffield United to become captain at Fleetwood Town.

By Tom Sandells
Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 11:45 am

And the Scot, who has fulfilled his goal of regular first-team football since his move to Highbury, says Cod Army boss Joey Barton showed his shrewdness when convincing him to sign.

Coutts sai:d “I could have stayed at Sheffield United but I hadn’t played much in the promotion season, so one of the reasons I wanted to leave was to play every week.

“When I met all the staff and the chairman at Fleetwood, I realised how ambitious the club was.

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Coutts in his PNE days

“I had a few things to think about last summer but the manager was desperate for me to come and see the training ground, and I realised why when I saw it.

“I don’t think people on the outside realise what facilities we have. You just wouldn’t expect it.

“They made the club something I wanted to be part of and made the decision quite easy.”

Coutts’ commitment to Fleetwood was quickly rewarded with the captain’s armband.

The former North End and Derby County player added: “The gaffer made me captain because Craig Morgan was moving on.

“It’s just one of those things as one of the older and more experienced players in the dressing room. It was great and is an honour, a nice show of faith in me by the manager.”

Having had to settle for 13 Championship appearances with the Blades last season, Coutts has played 32 times at the level below for Fleetwood, despite being used sparingly by Barton for a spell after the turn of the year.

Coutts was not convinced he needed this “winter break” but has since realised Barton was spot on.

“I had a little rest over the winter enforced by the manager,” he said. “He’d spoken to me a few times before and I’d said I was fine (to keep playing). But when you’ve had the break and come back refreshed, you realise it was the best thing for you.

“The manager has not long since finished playing, and he’s spoken to me a lot about how he felt playing in his thirties and how he managed his body. It’s good for me to learn from him.”