Coventry 2 Pompey 0

Conor Chaplin could start againsyt Plymouth. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey v Plymouth: pre-match talking points

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Different division but same result for Pompey.

The Sky Sports newsreader’s words filled the press auditorium as Steve Cotterill conducted his post-mortem in the aftermath of his team’s opening-day defeat.

The statement hit home hard and slumped the shoulders, the depressing reality of a loss to a team who are no more than mediocre at Championship level enveloping the Blue Army.

So the football world are still enjoying laughing at Pompey’s struggles. Normal service has resumed there, then.

Thursday’s High Court victory has allowed the club to come off the critical list.

That is a cause for celebration for those who bleed blue but their club remain in intensive care for the time being.

It’s clear enough there are plenty in the game who would have been lining up to switch off the life support machine.

The man nailed on to be given the task of starting the healing process was at the Ricoh Arena to witness Saturday’s loss.

Talk of interest from a number of parties has emerged in the wake of Company Voluntary Arrangement appeal success.

They won’t get beyond giving the Pompey tyre a cursory kick, though.

Balram Chainrai is the man who will be assuming control. Make no bones about that.

Supporters crave being able to dream of riches and owners lavishing millions on their club.

Chainrai has made the right noises over giving Cotterill resources to turn things around over the past few days.

Don’t get excited about that, though. The Hong Kong-based businessman has made it clear he’s not the long-term answer. He will be looking to get his cash back, as is his want.

Fears he will asset strip to do that are extreme however, for a man who doesn’t need to take a club apart in full view of the world for the money involved.

His presence, we hope, will provide a steadying of the ship.

Chainrai has now met Cotterill, albeit the briefest exchanges in the bowels of the Ricoh Arena.

Talk didn’t get beyond pleasantries, although the Pompey manager wouldn’t have needed to utter a word to deliver a compelling argument for the need for help.

All Chainrai needed to do was take a look at the Blues bench containing three spaces and four youngsters without a first-team start between them.

Work is continuing at pace for there to be movement coming through the door. Cotterill and chief executive David Lampitt are going full throttle on that front.

They know the maths have to add up to a £13m wage bill for the coming campaign, with the hope the Football League will help with the numbers allowed to come in now Chainrai’s arrival is nigh.

And the money being generated from player sales now has to hit the £7.5m mark, to fund the pressing portion of the £15m needed to action the CVA.

Cotterill believes Prince Boateng’s departure for Genoa and the sulking John Utaka’s exit are the only sales needed. Whether that will cover costs is debatable.

No-one will miss the Utaka who turned up on Saturday, after kicking up a stink about having to play at all.

The hope that springs eternal on the dawn of a new campaign had been fuelled further by the buoyancy of Pompey’s courtroom success in the build-up to the opener.

It lasted just four minutes, however, as the defence collectively dozed from Gary McSheffrey’s corner, allowing Fredy Eastwood to poke through Jamie Ashdown’s flimsy effort to keep the ball out.

That gave Coventry the platform to then put two banks of four in front of each other and frustrate the vistors.

Pompey’s football was bright and superior to the Sky Blues in the opening half, and the feeling was it was just a matter of time until they were back in the game.

New captain Marc Wilson led the fight for the visitors, as Cotterill handed him the armband. It was a statement which screamed ‘this man cannot be sold’ to the powers that be.

Cotterill wants to see Wilson grow from the responsibility he has been afforded. It worked at the first time of asking. Wilson was the class performer in royal blue.

Despite that, Pompey were unable to turn first-half possession into anything tangible. In fact, they barely fashioned a decent opportunity from controlling the ebb and flow of the match.

Cotterill went with the 4-3-3 formation he has employed throughout pre-season, but the longer the game went on, the more isolated and frustrated David Nugent looked up top.

Marc Wilson anchored the midfield in the area he can best exhibit his range of passing, but there was little the central three offered in terms of supporting the disaffected hitman.

Utaka offered his perennial glimpses of threat before going hopelessly off the boil, while Tommy Smith presented flashes of the quality he can call on.

The first-half’s potential threat made way for second-half frustration as the home side looked increasingly comfortable.

The Pompey’s players’ dissenting body language spoke volumes by the time the troublesome David Bell skipped down the right and picked out Eastwood, who stole a march on Aaron Mokoena to head the killer second with 20 minutes left.

That punctured the resistance of the Blues and there were chances for a third as Cotterill gave debuts to Peter Gregory and Nadir Ciftci and chased the game.

Inevitably it was Wilson who came closest for his side as his free-kick came back off the post.

The fact their only decent chance came in stoppage time, though, tells you all you need to know about Pompey’s day.

At least the 2,500 travelling fans could put on their customary act of defiance, as they delivered another show of force which made a mark on their new manager.

Their club is still breathing, and hopefully the darkest hours have now past. It may not be blazing bright, but at least they are able to see a new dawn.