After an up and down season for John Mousinho, the midfielder has credited the gaffer for helping him find his form again.
After a positive start to life as a Lilywhite, the North End No.21 struggled consistently with injuries over the course of the 2012/13 season.
But the North End fans began to see the best of Mous towards the end of the campaign and the 27-year-old is grateful that he has been given a second bite at the cherry here at Deepdale, thanks in part to some wise man management from Simon Grayson.
“Yeah, I think it must have done,” said Mousinho, when asked if he thought being relieved of the captaincy had helped him on the pitch.
“I don’t think I would be sat here and saying I was overly feeling the pressure when I was captain on matchdays, but I think you have just got to look at the evidence of the last four games of the season.
“They were definitely my most consistent performances and I felt better and better as each game went on.
“The one thing that changed there was obviously my fitness.
“I had been fit for quite a few weeks and the manager handled it very well in terms of maybe just relieving that pressure off me slightly and the performances did change so it was definitely a positive thing.
“I saw it as just another opportunity, John Welsh is a fantastic captain, he has captained other sides and he captained in my absence really well here so I don’t have any problem with that, if anything it helped me.
“I think, at the end of the day, if it is going to help your performance it is going to help the team’s performances.
“I wouldn’t change the way I was as a player in the dressing room and out there as well, but maybe it just seems to have lifted something off my shoulders.
“If the manager wanted me to be captain again I wouldn’t have a problem with it if and when he needed me to be, so I am not saying it from that point of view, but if you actually look at the facts, then they are there for everyone to see and I have really enjoyed the last bit of the season.
“I think there was a lot of bitterness for whatever reason from the fans towards the previous manager and yeah, he brought me in from Stevenage, he made me captain and I was essentially linked to him.
“I was lucky enough that the current manager didn’t see it that way and I am certainly grateful for the chance he has given me and the way he handled the whole situation in the press, the way he has stuck by me, kept playing
me, I can’t really say enough about him.
“I think that just goes to show that the new manager has come in and handled a pretty tricky situation very well, none of these were his players, none of these were his signings and whatever the situations where regarding contracts was irrelevant, it was whoever was going to play was the one who deserved to play and I think the squad responded really well to that.
“Once we have had the summer break, people will forget about the lack of success earlier on this season and I think they will really get themselves behind the team and behind the lads.”
The central midfielder would be honest enough to admit that he has not been able to win the entire Deepdale faithful over as of yet, but he is full of respect for the fans and he is pleased to see his popularity on the rise amongst them.
Mousinho continued: “To be fair to the fans, the first game after the Portsmouth game I played when we went off to Carlisle and we were warming up and I got a really positive reaction from the away fans having had one of my poorer games of the season a couple of weeks back at home, so that helps.
“Like I said after the Tranmere game, if you play well for the fans then they will reward you and if they don’t think you are putting it in or playing well then they will let you know and that’s fine, that’s the way football is.
“I am a football fan, I have always been a football fan and I understand it completely.
“This is their Club, they have been here longer than me, they will be here longer than me without a doubt, a lot of them will be here until they die, so fair play to them.
“I have never, ever got an issue with that and I have never tried to shirk that responsibility and I think this is quite an exciting place to be when we are winning games, coming off at half-time and full-time against Tranmere, in a game where we had nothing to play for essentially in the league and the atmosphere was pretty special.
“You are not going to get that at too many other grounds in League One, so the players have got a massive opportunity and a massive responsibility to make the most of that.”
Mousinho’s personal rollercoaster this season has been replicated by the Lilywhites as a team, but he insists there are plenty of positives to take going forward, particularly the performances of the younger members of the squad and although he is looking forward to his summer break, he fully expects that the players will be chomping at the bit to get going again, sooner, rather than later.
“I think it has been a big learning curve,” added Mous.
“Obviously it has not gone as well as the squad imagined it going and the Club imagined it going at the start of the season, but I think there has been a lot of progress made in a lot of areas.
“You just have to look at the awards dinner the other night to see some of the young players that have come through and done so well, you have now got first team regulars in Bailey Wright, Will Hayhurst, Jeff Monakana and Ben Davies who has just come through the Academy, so there are positives to take from that point of view.
“Plenty of players have had good seasons as well as indifferent ones, but maybe the most important part is the last couple of months.
“I think we finished the season really strongly, we’ve taken points off some pretty good teams and I think that will stand us in good stead for next year.
“No one is under any illusions that we wanted to finish 14th but we’ve got plenty of time over the summer to reassess and take stock and make sure that we come back next year and when we are next having this conversation, we are talking about playing in the Championship and we are not pottering about in the mid-table of League One.
“It has been a long season for me, I have picked up a lot of injuries and I think the break is needed despite the fact that the last eight to 12 weeks I have been fit and I have not missed a session yet under the new manager, so that’s a real positive for me going into the summer.
“I will certainly take a bit of time to rest and I think when you get a bit older, when you are younger you can just crack on and get through the summer and stay fit and do whatever you want, but that is not going to be the case here, it’s going to be a lot more sensible and a lot of rehab work and pool work and just making sure that I give myself the best chance next year.
“We are going to have plenty of time pre-season to get fit, it doesn’t mean I am going to come back unfit, but I think the summer for me is all about getting my body ready to get fit and make sure I am not injured pre-season, so yeah I will be glad for the break.
“It is one of those things when you are playing during the season, you are sort of desperate for a break and it’s such a long hard season you are waiting for one so badly and I can guarantee you that a week later, all of the lads will be hoping that pre-season starts the next day because they will miss it, that’s just the way it is.
“They will miss the changing room, they will miss the games and then as soon as they come back for the pre-season training they will be absolutely desperate to come and get their first game out at Deepdale, so yeah all the lads are looking forward to a break, but I guarantee if you ask them next week, they will be wanting the season to start on May the 15th.”