Preston North End’s first team coach is hoping for the green light to be confirmed that will allow fans to return to Deepdale in 2021/22.
The Lilywhites have not played in front of supporters in PR1 since the beginning of March 2020, but, as part of the newly announced coaching team at the club, Tommo thinks that if they are back at the start of the new campaign, they can make a massive difference.
Speaking to iFollow PNE he said: “At the start we said that the matches were like testimonial games/bounce games – there was no atmosphere. Normally if you are on top, that extra bit from the crowd spurs you on, especially at Preston North End.
“We are a hard-working, young, honest group and it seemed weird at times, as you didn’t seem to get any momentum in games, so we missed the fans massively.
“It has been strange for everybody; some teams it has helped them, because they have not had the crowd on their backs, but for other teams when the crowd gets behind them, it gives them that extra yard.
“It has been strange for everybody, sad times, but hopefully we can get normality back to football – and to the world – and we can get the crowds back at Deepdale and behind us, it would be a massive boost for everyone.”
Steve joins new head coach Frankie McAvoy, Paul Gallagher and goalkeeper coach Mike Pollitt as the new first team coaching team and after what he describes as a ‘strange’ season, he is delighted to be part of the structure going forward.
“It has been a strange season on and off the pitch,” said the 56-year-old. “It has not been the same without the fans; it was a disappointment when Alex left, but Frankie, Gally, Mike Pollitt and myself had to step up to the mark and steady the ship.
“I think the results have shown that we have done okay. I was delighted when Frankie got the job, delighted that he is happy with the team and that Mr Hemmings and Mr Ridsdale have shown faith in us and, hopefully, moving forward we can take Preston North End where we want to be.
“The Championship is so unpredictable, but with the right support, the right coaching and the right methods we can introduce to the players, we can hopefully be successful.”
And he feels that the momentum gained with 17 points from the last eight games of the season, there is an opportunity for everyone to play their part in the new campaign: “Once you get the results, the mood changes around the camp. We were very close when Alex was here, but it is very fine margins in football, especially in the Championship. If you look at the fixtures on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, you can’t predict the results that will happen.
“It was fantastic to pick up the results that we did, because we were looking over our shoulder, but the run of results that we had and the momentum we took into those games, the lads have been great.
“When we had the [end of season] meetings with them the other day, we told them that it was squad-based team. You have to keep on top of all the lads; they bought into it - they realised we were in for a fight and they were up for it as well.
“As coaches it is important that you try and keep the lads who are out of the team fit, you keep them up to speed. As a player I have been there; I know the disappointment and sometimes it needs a quiet word with them to say ‘you are an injury or a phone call away from getting back into the team’.
“It is about man-management and if your job is to make everyone feel part of it, that is what you have to do. It is also about competition for places – after training the coaches talk about who was up for it, who wasn’t and who is not up to speed and when you have competition for places, it is great.
“Gally has come in, he had a fantastic playing career, he is young and hungry as a coach, come in with fresh ideas and even us old men can learn off him! And he can learn off Frankie and I, and I am sure that he will.
“We have a good combination; Frankie and I were on the training ground when Alex was here; we know how we work and what we want and Gally will bring fresh ideas to it. He has great feelings for this club and going into the new season we have a bit of momentum and hopefully players, old and young, can improve,” he added.