Cotterill deserves time but more class is needed

Pompey boss Steve Cotterill
Pompey boss Steve Cotterill
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Pompey’s more restless fans are already murmuring that perhaps it is time to sack manager Steve Cotterill.

Not fair. But there is cause for concern.

The team have a modest mid-table look and have a horrible habit of finding a way to lose.

Witness last week’s incredible last-gasp winner handed to Peterborough in game which should have been won.

Then at Leeds, Pompey conceded first for the seventh time in 10 matches this season.

Stats prove that teams which do that usually lose – and in the case of Cotterill’s side, the nasty habit has led to a yield of a paltry two points from the games in question.

The manager and his coaches need to examine why this is happening.

Is there a problem with the mental preparation or warm-up on the day when the team continually starts more slowly than a car with no spark plugs?

It means Pompey are continually chasing games.

In the two matches where they’ve scored first, they have won against Reading and Blackpool.

The team has a muscle-bound laboured look with two huge full-backs in Joel Ward and Tal Ben Haim.

Less emphasis on big, strong athletic types – more on craft, pace, cleverness and quality.

Should the young winger Ryan Williams be getting more game time?

Cotterill has not been helped by the iffy form of Liam Lawrence and the anonymity of David Norris in recent games.

Erik Huseklepp needs to prove he is not just a lightweight bit-part player at this level, despite his popularity.

The team needs a poacher. Can Luke Varney or Dave Kitson fill that role? You would not bet on it.

Time for the manager to ask himself some key questions about what his players really have to offer.

Does he know the best team and the most effective formation?

The suspicion based on perfomances is that this is a workaday mid-table outfit.

That sounds a brutal assessment, but a realistic one.

Cotterill is a decent man who did a fine job keeping a troubled club away from trouble last season.

But times have changed. The club have new owners and are on a more even keel now.

That means raised expectations.

Cotterill should be cut a little slack – but he has been in this game long enough to know that evidence of an improvement is needed fairly soon.

The two-week break gives everyone a chance to stop, think, and reorganise.

Because this team, with a fair bit of class and experience on board, should be doing better.