Cotterill sees Awford as Pompey Academy’s future

Andy Awford
Andy Awford
Fan-funder Steve McLenaghan cuts the ribbon to officially open the Tifosy pitches at Pompeys Copnor Road training base. Also included are, from left, James Pollock, Tifosy, Blues chief executive Mark Catlin, manager Kenny Jackett, academy boss Mark Kelly and Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Ken Ellcome. Fans were also present at the opening ceremony

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Andy Awford has already convinced Steve Cotterill in the short term.

Now the Blues boss wants the Academy coach to be the youth set-up’s future.

Former Fratton Park defender Awford has impressed since taking over the youngsters in January.

It was originally an interim appointment by Cotterill, giving him the opportunity to assess the Pompey hero’s impact.

He has not disappointed.

With Paul Hardyman by Awford’s side, the duo have revitalised the youth set-up.

The pair have introduced a greater emphasis on training ground coaching.

That has sparked an improvement in results, as well as being well received by the players.

The approach is in stark contrast to the 16-month regime of predecessor Paul Smalley.

And Cotterill has seen enough to want Awford in the role on a permanent basis.

That now needs to be rubberstamped by David Lampitt.

Pompey’s manager is hopeful that long-term appointment can help transform the club’s wilting youth system.

He said: ‘I think Andy has done very well.

‘He has put everything into the job and now merits doing it on a full-time basis.

‘From the football side of it, there has been an upturn in results which has obviously helped the players’ confidence.

‘When he left, I spoke to Paul Smalley about how I thought the lads needed more game time on the training field. They needed more coaching.

‘We are trying to make young footballers better and that is the only way they can learn the game.

‘When these young players come up to me, I am not expecting them to be fantastic overnight but I do expect them to be more knowledgeable.

‘It shouldn’t be about players sitting in a classroom and saying “we have to do this and that”.

‘They should be learning pictures from the training ground rather than off a projector.

‘Let’s take them onto the training pitch.

‘They need to understand the game, that is so important at that age.

‘Now they are training on the grass a lot more than they had been.

‘There has definitely been a more football ethic since Andy came in – backed up very ably by Paul Hardyman.

‘Those two have done well.’

Just three years ago, Pompey lavished millions of pounds on the Academy set-up.

That was used to bring some of the brightest talents in Europe to Fratton Park.

Since then, the likes of Tom Kilbey, Liam O’Brien, Gael Nlundulu and Gaultier Mahoto have departed.

In return, the club haven’t received a single penny in transfer fees.

Now Cotterill wants a drastic overhaul of the existing set-up.

Awford is the man he has identified to spearhead that much-needed change.

And Cotterill believes that appointment would epitomise the changes required at Pompey for the club to flourish once again.

He added: ‘There are lots of things we want to change over a period of time.

‘Not people but attitudes, the scouting network, the support team.

‘In my eyes, Andy has definitely done enough to warrant having the job on a full-time basis.

‘Hopefully, that will be listened to.

‘He is Pompey through and through and, for sure, has the energy and desire to take it forward.

‘If it was down to me I would give him the job permanently.

‘We are getting very close to the end of the season and things need to happen to our football club.

‘One of those is getting a permanent Academy manager.

‘We need scouts – at the moment there is just one part-time scout.

‘We need them to be full-time and all over the place.

‘At this moment in time, a lot of this is on hold and something needs to be done.

‘Scouting players, the Academy, – it all comes out of my football budget.

‘And if this is not sorted we will be in a right pickle.’