Wilson’s Wisdom: Optimism and backing will be tested

New Pompey boss Paul Cook
New Pompey boss Paul Cook
Dion Donohue. Picture: Colin Farmery

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Three years.

That is the length of Paul Cook’s contract as he was appointed at Pompey.

At present, just 10 managers of the 92 clubs in the top four divisions have been in their jobs for three years or more.

On the face of it, that is a real statement of intent from the Pompey board.

They are giving him time to get it right – or so it seems.

It’s a pledge of confidence in his ability and a remit to lay the foundations at Fratton Park and finally – at long last – get this great club moving upwards again.

The trouble is, we all thought that a year ago too.

Cook has a pedigree of getting a team promoted out of the basement division and then challenging at the next level, as he proved with Chesterfield.

He appears to tick all the boxes on exactly what is required.

At the moment, the fans’ reaction has been almost unanimously positive.

But we’ve been here before.

The problem is that sometimes there is an invisible chemistry between managers and clubs or the circumstances just don’t line up for some reason.

Good managers, who have done well in previous appointments, have been total failures and then gone on to be even more successful at other clubs.

Delve into Pompey’s relatively recent history and use Tony Pullis as an example.

After Gillingham and Bristol City, he arrived at Fratton Park in January 2000 – and was booted out 10 months later.

Pompey fans didn’t take to him or the team’s style of play and wanted him out when he’d barely got started with his plans to rebuild the side.

Milan Mandaric duly obliged.

Since then, it’s impossible to argue with Pulis’ success at Stoke, Crystal Palace and West Brom.

So would Pulis have brought success to Pompey in the way he did at his subsequent clubs had he been given that essential ingredient of time?

We will never know.

But even if you are not a Pulis fan, you’d have to admit that the evidence is stacked in his favour.

Pulis might fall into the category of a good manager at the ‘wrong’ club – or perhaps the right club at the wrong time.

It’s hard not to feel that surge of optimism at a new managerial appointment – I feel it too.

I’m sure maybe many of us are asking the same thing: ‘Have we finally got the right man?’

But, just for a moment, imagine a few key injuries bite at the wrong time next season or perhaps there is a 10-game winless run.

How about if Pompey miss out on the play-offs next season?

Will everyone still be convinced that Cook is the right man?

Of course they won’t.

Cook himself knows what is required and he knows his success or failure is based on one thing and one thing alone: results.

So for me, the jury is out.

Not because I think he is the wrong man, but because I’ve been taken in by this wave of optimism too often in the past few years.

I agree, Cook seems like he could be a big success but I’m exercising some caution this time around.

So maybe we should all give him a chance – a proper chance – and let’s see what the man can do.