Journeyman Greg in for the long-haul

Greg Halford
Greg Halford
Curtis Main in action for Pompey against Reading under-23s in last season's Checkatrade Trophy. Picture: Joe Pepler  PompReading PPP-160510-131550001

Pompey question: Will you attend the Fulham under-21s Checkatrade Trophy game?

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Greg Halford finally has a manager who believes in him.

Now one of football’s journeymen is ready to put down roots and fulfil his immense potential.

It has been seven clubs in the last four years for the 26-year-old.

A procession of employers from the Premier League and Championship suggests a talent not yet successfully nurtured.

Halford has certainly had his problems with some of his managers, including Mick McCarthy and Roy Keane.

Their handling of the player they brought in for millions of pounds has been described as ‘baffling’ by the versatile performer himself.

Not so at Pompey, though, where he returned this summer to link-up with Steve Cotterill permanently.

Halford chose Fratton Park ahead of Birmingham to complete a three-year deal from Wolves for a reported £1m.

And, in a candid interview, he reveals how Cotterill is one of the few bosses capable of eking out the best of him.

He said: ‘The gaffer understands the way I play and the way I think.

‘Other managers don’t know how to man-manage me and don’t know how to get the best out of me.

‘They see the potential and go and sign me but don’t really want to work with me on a one-on-one basis.

‘They seem to think “I’ve bought you here so go and do what you did last year”. But it doesn’t always work like that.

‘You need to play differently, with different set ups, but Portsmouth is perfect with a manager who knows what makes me tick, what makes me buzz and that’s what gets the best out of me.

‘I am not a complex character, I get bored very easily and find from talking to other managers they think sometimes I find it too easy and go into the comfort zone.

‘Maybe that is why myself and Mick (McCarthy) fell out a couple of times, because he thought I was overconfident and arrogant.

‘Sometimes that is perceived, but if you really get to know me I am a laid-back, down-to-earth kind of guy.

‘You have got to have confidence in this game otherwise you’ll get eaten up, spat out and get nowhere.

‘It’s funny because I see Portsmouth probably as a bigger club than Wolves, but have taken a step back from there.

‘I wouldn’t have signed if I didn’t see myself settling here, spending a number of years here and pushing my career on.’

Halford joined Wolves from Sunderland in a £2m deal in the summer of 2009.

Yet he was to make just 20 appearances during a frustrating two years with the Premier League side.

He was rescued from cold storage by Cotterill, who brought him to Fratton Park for two loan spells last season.

In total, the former Colchester man chalked up 33 appearances, scoring five goals, as he reinvented himself as an outstanding central defender.

Now Halford is at Pompey for good – and the Wolves hell finally over.

He added: ‘It’s funny, Wolves wanted to get some money in from me to go and sign Roger Johnson, which is baffling.

‘Obviously he had an outstanding season with Birmingham last year but I still don’t see him as a better player than I am.

‘Then again, as soon as I went back to Wolves after my first loan finished the manager didn’t say two words to me.

‘It was disappointing because it seemed like he was never going to give me the chance I needed purely because our personalities clashed.

‘But the way he was with me staggers and baffles me because I got on well with all the players there.

‘The same with Roy Keane, we clashed a few times and sometimes it is disappointing.

‘Me and the gaffer here have clashed but he is still able to play me because he knows what is right for the team.

‘He knows that I am going to give 100 per cent and going to be able to make the team better.

‘That never really occurred at Wolves or Sunderland, I was never given that opportunity purely for personality reasons – that is it.’