Will Rooney discusses three talking points ahead of today’s trip to Wigan.
HOW WILL POMPEY FANS GREET COOK?
It’s unlikely there will be any fence sitting from the Fratton faithful in how they greet Paul Cook.
There’s two different opinions among Pompey fans – he’s either a club legend etched into Blues folklore or a Judas who won’t ever be forgiven.
Nobody can scrutinise what Paul Cook achieved at the Blues. He transformed a club who finished 16th in League Two to champions in just two seasons at the helm.
Cook signed the likes of Christian Burgess, Matt Clarke and Kyle Bennett – all key players Kenny Jackett has inherited – and released Pompey from the shackles of the bottom tier of the Football League.
The ex-Chesterfield boss left for a club near his home city and for a lucrative contract.
But the interview he gave in the washroom at Fratton Park after the emphatic 6-1 victory against Cheltenham Town will be in the forefront of many.
‘I will never leave Pompey,’ were the powerful words he bellowed out.
Cook portrayed he was fully committed and wanted to continue the Blues’ charge back up the Football League ladder and build on the foundations he’d created.
Instead, he departed for Wigan – despite the club doing the utmost to keep hold of him and offering him a significant pay rise.
There will likely be an applause of appreciation or yelps of boos and Cook is likely expecting both.
LOWE ADDS ANOTHER DIMENSION
Kenny Jackett was once again left frustrated with his attacking charges after last week’s draw against Walsall.
On the back of Pompey’s 3-0 loss to Oxford United, he called on his troops to be braver in one-on-one situations.
There were some signs of what the Blues boss is encouraging against the Saddlers but, overall, there’s still plenty of scope for improvement.
Jamal Lowe is back into the fold for the trip to Wigan.
He was dismissed for a late challenge in the opening day win against Rochdale and was forced to serve a three-match ban.
The former Hampton & Richmond winger gives Jackett another attacking option at the DW Stadium.
He’s blessed with raw pace and power, and knows how to find the back of the net.
What’s more, he’s had a competitive appearance during his ban, which will be to his and his manager’s advantage.
Lowe bageed twice in the Blues’ 3-3 draw with Fulham under-21s in the Checkatrade Trophy last week and gave his manager a reminder of what he is capable of.
CUT OUT CONCEDING AFTER RESTART
It’s been a spanner in the works for Jackett’s troops this term.
The Blues have conceded three times just minutes after the restart.
On each occasion, Pompey had kept a clean sheet in the first period.
There’s no doubt Cook will be looking to exploit that.
Wigan possess an abundance of attacking prowess that includes the likes of Ivan Toney, Gavin Masey, Nick Powell and Will Grigg, which will mean Christian Burgess & Co. will have to produce a near-flawless performance if Pompey are to get anything out of the game.
Keeping switched on early into the second half is crucial.
If that’s achieved, the Blues’ rearguard will soon get into full flow and it’ll mean Jackett can stick to his game plan.