Continuing our series of pre-season blogs from guest writers, Andrew Stillwell looks at Paul Cook, with an eye to past Pompey managers.
Since the turn of the century we have had 15 managers up to and including Paul Cook, it doesn’t take a maths genius to figure out that’s one manager per season. Not exactly the breeding ground for consistency both on and off the pitch, unfortunately not all the managers we have had, have gone on to bigger and better things.
What has made a good manager for Pompey?
Pompey fans on the whole are very loyal and will give a manager every chance to succeed at the club. With this being the case, why have we had such a massive turnover of managers this century?
We can put managers into categories – inexperienced, understanding the English game, style of play, loyal servant/knows the clubs, talented coach, or experienced manager.
Some of our former managers can sit in one or two of these categories however that does not tell the full story of why a manager is liked or disliked?
Inexperience, Loyal Servant, Talented Coach
When Pompey fans look at other clubs to see managers promoted from within or a club taking a chance on someone, there is always that feeling that a newbie will be the next big thing.
We have had our fair share of green managers over the 15 years. Claridge, Rix, Adams, Hart, Appleton, Whittingham and lately Awford. While they approach the role with fresh eyes and a youthful exuberance they make mistakes as we all do in things we are new at.
However the key thing is how they learn from their mistakes, unfortunately in Pompey’s case all the managers discarded with the exception of Appleton are no longer first team managers in the football league.
Style of Play
Going back to the turn of the century Pompey appointed a young Tony Pulis as manager, history would say that we got it very wrong in sacking him! His record before us was very good and his record after us even better, so why didn’t it work here?
Signing Lee Mills for £1.25m was half the reason but Pulis as we know has a distinct style of play which history has proved works, however Pompey fans have historically liked the ball on the deck and that was the biggest issue in Pulis’s short stint in charge.
Pompey definitely had experienced managers in Perrin, Grant, but in Zajec’s case a firm knowledge gap of what is required to prosper in the English game. Our most successful, loved and hated manager in Redknapp had at the time of his first appointment 700 games worth of experience which is comparable to what Perrin, Grant and Zajec had in their entire managerial careers at that point in time.
During Redknapp’s reign you would not call him a tactical genius and he wasn’t on the cutting edge of technology. He was a players manager, if you were part of the inner circle he would back you to the hilt publically and no doubt gave a telling off or two behind closed doors. One of his saying’s was “You win games by having good players”.
From the outside, Cook is very much like Redknapp. The numbers say that in the first nine years of Cook’s short managerial career of 300 games, he has a win percentage of 39% compared to Redknapp’s time at Bournemouth of 457 games with a win rate of also 39%.
I know they are different leagues but both started at the bottom and were given an opportunity to mould something, Redknapp at West Ham and Cook now with Pompey.
So what is Paul Cook bringing to the Portsmouth kitchen being our new Masterchef?
– As mentioned with Redknapp, players definitely want to play for him.
– A set system of player 4-2-3-1.
– Signing players for a set system rather than signings for numbers sake.
– Accusations of interference from the board have been made in the past, I don’t think there is any doubt that Cook is in charge.
– A long term view with regards to signings, expect next year’s summer window to be far quieter than this one.
– Player knowledge, just with the speed of the signings shows that he and his staff have contacts within the game which is something we have missed.
For most of us on Saturday it will be the first time to see Paul Cook’s new look Pompey side, let’s see if the hype becomes even greater or the bubble bursts.
I’ll return before the 15/16 season kicks off with a look at the opener against Dagenham and Redbridge on August 9th and my thoughts on the likely starting XI.
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