A month has past by already since Paul Cook’s arrival as Pompey’s fourth manager under fan ownership, so what do we know and what do we expect ahead of the new season?
Fans eager to hear what the new man had to say for himself didn’t have to wait long as Johnny Moore held the first interview on May 11th. Cook quietly impressed and spoke with conviction on his expectations for the new season – the bottom line being ‘promotion, no messing about.’
Cook was unveiled to the local and national media later that week at Fratton Park.
“We’re the biggest club in this division, but that doesn’t give us any divine right to win it or be promoted. But I think we can go a long way and my job is to show that to the supporters by what we do on the pitch.”
“I demand hard work. People said Chesterfield couldn’t pass their way out of League Two. We did. And I will do the same here. We need to get the stadium vibrant and intimidate people.”
As expected, Cook shook up the backroom staff – Gary Waddock, Paul Hardyman, Andy Melville, and Louis Langdown leaving their positions. Hardyman may well be retained at the club – he awaits details of a potential role as Cook finalises his pre-season plans. Incoming we saw Leam Richardson (Assistant Manager) and Ian Foster (First Team Coach) arrive as Cook’s new backroom team started to take shape.
On the playing side, Dan Butler, Ben Chorley, Tom Craddock, Joe Devera, Danny East, Wes Fogden, Nicky Shorey and Bradley Tarbuck were all released. The club took up the option of extending Ben Close’s contract for another year, while Adam Webster has been offered a new deal.
The long touted exit of Jed Wallace became reality as he joined Wolves on a three-year deal for an undisclosed fee, with Blues’ fans best wishes loud and clear. This was swiftly followed by news of the first player signing of the summer as Kyle Bennett sealed a two-year contract on a free transfer from Doncaster Rovers.
The following week saw another player exit as Ryan Taylor joined League Two rivals, Oxford United on a two-year contract.
With the Bank Holiday weekend in sight, Pompey made their second signing of the summer with Kal Naismith joining from Accrington Stanley on a three-year contract for an undisclosed fee.
A bid for Chesterfield midfielder Gary Roberts said to be around £40,000 was rejected. Interest in free-agent Jimmy Ryan has seemingly cooled although could well be reignited if or when a deal for Roberts is sealed.
Talks with Southend United’s Barry Corr came to nothing as the out of contract striker opted to join Cambridge United. Meanwhile, Enda Stevens a left-back who spent time last season on loan at Doncaster Rovers and now released by Aston Villa, may yet come to fruition.
It remains to be seen if former Coventry City and Sheffield United midfielder Michael Doyle will become one of the ‘quality over quantity’ signings Cook is looking to make. Cork City’s John Kavanagh is another name linked to become their next export to the English professional leagues with Pompey reported as keen. As yet no strikers have hit the headlines, a loan deal for a Premier or Championship youngster could be an option.
With Craig Westcarr’s departure to Mansfield Town making it now eleven players in total to leave Fratton Park, fans can look forward to further new faces arriving ahead of pre-season training on June 29th alongside the two already signed in Kyle Bennett and Kal Naismith.
Optimism is certainly in the air with season ticket sales on par with last year’s totals so far, although Pompey have declined to reveal exact numbers just yet. Like the previous two seasons, the bookies make the Blues’ favourites for promotion and fans will be hoping that the 2015/16 season is third time lucky as the club seeks to move back up the leagues.
Whatever the new season brings, it will undoubtedly come with ups and downs, after all this is Pompey. Ultimately, fans will be hoping that it ends with a big up come May 2016.
What are your hopes and expectations for the new season? Get in touch via Twitter or email at email@example.com if you’d like to share your pre-season blog on our website or fancy covering a game this season.