Park Life – Latics’ long serving goalkeeper Mike Pollitt reveals that leaving Manchester United gave him the determination to succeed.
In 1991, after two years as an apprentice and a year as a professional, Mike Pollitt left Old Trafford for pastures new as he joined Bury FC.
Now, 22 years and 11 clubs later he has found himself back dining at the top table of football in the Barclays Premier League but, he said he owes his battling attitude to his time as a young footballer.
“It is a fantastic upbringing obviously because Sir Alex Ferguson is the manager and someone like that just has a wealth of knowledge.
“When you come from a team so high up and then have to work your way back up from the lower levels it makes you realise how much you really want something.
“Leaving Man United when I did gave me the determination to get back and I’ve done it with Wigan Athletic which has been fantastic.”
With football an ever changing and evolving entity, the 40-year-old shed some light on what it was like when he started out.
“It was a lot different back then because it was the old-fashioned apprentice system when people had jobs to do as well as playing their football.
“Sir Alex Ferguson used to make us do things like cleaning the boots, cleaning the showers and basically doing all of the jobs that needed doing; it was a bit like having a school master.
“It always stood me in good stead though because it was a good grounding after I left school.
“Stuff like that gave the players good discipline and made them learn to have respect around the place.”
Nowadays loan deals in the game are a lot more common, something which Pollitt has praise for.
“Development in football is a lot different now because teams look to get their players out to other clubs on loan.
“The Under 21 league now is a bit different to reserve team football so managers like to try and get the more developed players a chance in other divisions, even as high as the Championship now.
“I went out on loan to the Conference when I was at Man United, to Macclesfield and Oldham which is a massive step-up from playing Under 18 football because you’re going into a man’s world.
“With the likes of Lee (Nicholls) going playing in League Two it is fantastic because he’s reached that next level of progression and is playing in front of a crowd every week.”
Saturday’s game will be the eighth encounter between Wigan Athletic and Manchester United at Old Trafford, something which Pollitt believes to be special but, he insists focus is on the game and not the occasion.
“It is always special when you go to a big ground like Old Trafford but, we’ve been facing these teams for a long time now so it just gets treated as another game in the calendar that we have to go out and try and win.
“I don’t see why we can’t go to Old Trafford and get a result because the gap between the clubs isn’t as much as it used to be.
“The closing of the gap between the two sides is down to the quality we’ve got in our squad.
“There’s competition for places all over and we’ve got a good nucleus of around 25 players who could be thrown into the team at the drop of a hat.
“The depth is great and we’ve got a more or less fully fit squad so there’s no reason why we can’t go and get something from the game.”