Opinion: How a line from boxing has me hooked on Cowley

By James Robbins

While bored throughout the summer waiting for football to return and ignoring that new shambles of a cricket tournament or England’s top order collapsing, I decided to look through some old boxing videos to lose a bit of time.

One of the go-to videos is George Groves grand entrance on top of a double decker bus entering a sold-out Wembley Stadium for his rematch with Carl Froch.

Like with most sporting broadcasts, what enhanced this was the opening line from the great Nick Halling who said:

‘He is revealing in this extraordinary atmosphere, and why shouldn’t he. He’s created this’

Now before you start to think you have accidentally stumbled onto a throw-away article from a boxing blog, the reason I’m bringing this up is this line has resonated with me throughout the new Pompey season.

Specifically with Danny Cowley who from the moment he entered the club is trying his upmost to repair the smashed relationship between fans, city and club.

And let’s face it, for the most part, it’s working.

Anyone who has been to a match this season or watched some of the videos shared by the social media team of a manager beaming with pride as wounds between club and fans begin to heal.

People are going to games genuinely excited to watch it in a ground which at times recaptures some of it’s renowned atmosphere – although a serious conversation is needed about how this can become a regular occurrence rather than for five games a season.

Players like Ronan Curtis – who Cowley has stated was in the conversation to be the next captain before Clark Robertson was handed the armband – summoning players over to show their appreciation to the Fratton faithful.

Leadership from players without an armband, which in all honesty there has been a significant lack of over recent seasons.

That has also been evident in the recruitment where the players he’s signed are an improvement on what was there previously both in terms of ability and standing up to be counted.

This is despite adversity of not being the most productive window he would have liked, working within the constraints of the budget, while other clubs spend cash like Jordan Belfort.

While I appreciate Cowley is very media savvy – a point which a Lincoln fan on the bus back from Goodwood was very keen to emphasise – his one man charm offensive of soundbites continues to hit the right tone.

Interviews in the build up to matches or post-game are honest, under-stated and transparent while his recent engagement with a fan singing ‘Play Up Pompey’ again struck the right tone of a man who gets the club.

He is a braver man than I am as the first thing I would do is come off social media or hand over the passwords of my accounts to some social media graduate at a London agency like 99% of Premier League footballers. 

There will be far more analytical supporters on this page, PO4cast or my colleague Stephen on the Fratton Focus podcast who will be able to drill down into the detail of the tactics.

For supporters like me who prefer to judge the game visually this has been an extremely strong start to a long season.

Crucially Danny Cowley is laying strong foundations to get everyone for the first time in a while pulling in the right direction and that could, and I emphasise could, be the difference of a couple of points which finally sees Pompey back in the Championship.

James Robbins presents the Fratton Focus Podcast which is available to listen on Spotify and Soundcloud.

Photo: Portsmouth FC

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