Time for new regime to show Cotts he’s wanted

Pompey boss Steve Cotterill
Pompey boss Steve Cotterill
Mark Catlin is against the Checkatrade Trophy. Picture: Joe Pepler

Revamped – yet Pompey still against Checkatrade Trophy

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Steve Cotterill was in his wellies overlooking the pitches being relaid at Pompey’s training ground when the call came.

Talk of interest from Birmingham in his services was spreading like electronic wildfire across the media world and its various platforms.

But Cotterill was insistent the phone call from The News was the first he had heard of talk the midlanders wanted him to become their new manager.

That wouldn’t have taken long to change, however, with his mobile soon burning red hot as speculation gathered pace he was the man in the frame to replace Alex McLeish at St Andrew’s.

It took barely the time needed for the yellow ticker bar to flash across the Sky Sports screen speaking of Birmingham’s reported interest for the calls to start.

Chris Hughton, Gianfranco Zola and Roberto Di Matteo were the early names in the frame to succeed McLeish.

And there was little talk of Cotterill in the first hours following McLeish’s emailed resignation on Sunday.

That soon changed, though, and the bookmakers had definitely got hold of something, with the 46-year-old quickly their favourite for the job and as short as 11/10 in some quarters to get it. Then things started to get really crazy, with Cotterill trending on Twitter. If only his account on the social networking site wasn’t a fraud, he might have even got to have a look himself.

All the while, Pompey were staying quiet on the matter – as was Cotterill.

Birmingham then made the move to deny an approach had been made for the man who has seen his stock grow off the back of overseeing the Blues’ rehabilitation in his year at Fratton Park.

The mechanics of football tells us that a denial of interest can mean very little, however.

No smoke without fire is often the best line to follow but the politics of the game means things are rarely what they seem. What is undoubtedly evident is Cotterill’s reputation has grown following a tumultuous 12 months at Fratton Park after replacing Avram Grant.

Similarly unquestionable is that no manager in the English game has had to deal with the same conditions thrown at the man from Cheltenham.

A transfer embargo, crazy pre-season, squad restrictions, contract disputes and the smallest group of players to work with in the English game have all landed in his court.

He has handled it all in a manner which has seen his standing rise and overtures from other clubs head his way in that period.

But just as clear as his reputation being on the up is the fact he wants to stay put at Pompey.

Cotterill has started a job he wants to continue and, with the club’s new owners Convers Sports Initiatives at the helm, the hope is the good ship Pompey will now head into calmer waters after travelling through a lengthy storm.

Any manager would have his head turned by talk of an established club like Birmingham being interested in his services.

Cotterill is settled, however, has a good life with his family in nearby Christchurch and is committed to taking his team forward.

The speculation is a timely statement to the club’s new owners of the esteem their manager is held in, though.

Dubov met with Cotterill yesterday to start working out a transfer strategy, which is of huge urgency with eight players to call upon at present.

Cotterill was long promised a new deal by former owners Balram Chainrai and Levi Kushnir, too – something they failed to deliver.

He currently has two years left on the contract he signed and wants to know that he is part of the big picture under the club’s owners.

Maybe some reassurance on that front wouldn’t go amiss.

The fact Cotterill was stood watching work take place on pitches at Eastleigh when the Birmingham furore broke, tells you all you need to know about his attention to detail.

He wants to stay for the long haul and maybe these latest events will prompt the new regime to emphatically tell him he’s the man to do that.