Cotterill happy strong foundations are finally in place

New Pompey owners Vladimir Antonov, left, and Roman Dubov
New Pompey owners Vladimir Antonov, left, and Roman Dubov
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A year ago, the walls of Fratton Park looked like they were about to come tumbling down at any moment – and Steve Cotterill seemed like the only man left to hold them up.

Now it seems he has a few men alongside him to help him out.

At last, Pompey seem to have some direction, leadership and financial backing at the very top from those who now own the club.

And it’s been some considerable time since anyone has seen that at PO4.

Probably about three years, in fact.

Vladimir Antonov, Roman Dubov – who attended the Chelsea game on Saturday – and Chris Akers have a plan to help the club grow.

And while that means an open chequebook is not on offer to the manager to spend on whoever he chooses, his requests appear to be given more serious consideration these days.

It’s a relationship that is still in its infancy.

But Cotterill likes what he sees from those now in the corridors of power at Fratton Park.

Cotterill said: ‘I have met Vladimir for about 20 minutes and it was very quick on the day they took over.

‘I’ve had two or three meetings with Roman and have started to get to know him a bit more.

‘Chris Akers I have had a meeting with and have spoken to him on the phone a few times.

‘But they have come through the door and so far they have been a breath of fresh air.

‘From where we were last year, to where we are now – they are a breath of fresh air.

‘To how it was this time last year, there is no comparison at this moment in time. They have been really good.’

Cotterill is a manager who likes to run the club from top to bottom.

And while the owners have yet to openly discuss their plans for the future with supporters, they will surely have noted the Blues boss is intent on rebuilding a club – and not just putting together a fantasy team.

Cotterill said: ‘I don’t really know how it will work in the future yet. They pretty much leave me to it.

‘But they will know that I am interested in the club developing as a football club and not just spending money on players. They might like that.

‘Everybody wants to know that the club will be better – and that’s everything around the club.

‘There is no comparison to how it was 12 months ago.’

Those who saw the club at its lowest ebb at first-hand can now see the progress that has been made.

Cotterill won’t get everything he wants in the blink of an eye and a flash of a Russian chequebook.

But it seems he is being given the licence to build sensibly, which is exactly what he always wanted.

He said: ‘What the club has been through and for everybody coming in to work here now, it’s a lot easier than it was during those past 12 months.

‘We just didn’t move anywhere.

‘It was amazing that we managed to get teams out and nick a few results here and there.

‘Probably more importantly, we stayed in the division.

‘It was like a juggernaut rolling down the hill at times. Trying to stop it was very difficult last season.

‘But this football club needs to be able to breathe again and it needs to grow. We can do that now.’