Wilson’s Wisdom: Paul Cook’s closer bond makes for tough calls

Pompey keeper Brian Murphy, right Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey keeper Brian Murphy, right Picture: Joe Pepler
Conor Chaplin. Pic: Joe Pepler

Baker and team selection to fore as Pompey fans have say

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The old saying ‘out with the old and in with the new’ is something that gets trotted out quite frequently at this time of year.

It’s pretty clear that Paul Cook doesn’t agree with that sentiment.

He made his big fresh start in the summer when he made an almost complete overhaul of the playing staff.

And he bristles at the prospect of a raft of new changes to his playing squad over the course of the January transfer window.

He recently suggested he may have to show a ruthless streak in trimming the squad.

But he also appears to be the kind of manager who shows an unusual amount of loyalty.

Other managers are aloof with their players.

But that’s not Cook’s style, who has spoken many times about working with a tight-knit group and creating a bond.

He certainly seems himself as a central part of that group.

And that will make for some tricky decisions.

In an ideal world, Cook would let this batch of players grow together.

But regardless of whether Pompey go up in May, it will be the end of the line for some of them.

And in reality, he could be telling players they are no longer wanted in the next few weeks.

Players he brought into the club, who may not quite have lived up to his expectation, could well be allowed to leave to make room for replacements.

Utility man Rommy Boco has not made an appearance since the 6-0 drubbing of York in November and hasn’t even been on the bench since December 5.

At the time, he provided useful cover in several positions but that need is no longer as pressing.

Winger Kal Naismith was allowed to join Hartlepool in December, and even though his loan spell is now due to expire, Cook is happy to let him stay out on loan. That tells its own story.

Loan striker Jayden Stockley has found it tough to force his way back into the plans after his ankle injury, although his physical presence does offer a useful alternative.

And the biggest question mark from the season so far still hangs over the goalkeeper.

Brian Murphy’s six-month contract is set to expire in the next few days.

The fact that he has not been tied down for the rest of the season already would suggest Cook is not yet convinced.

If it was me in my make-believe world as Pompey manager, I would be looking for potential replacements.

Easy for me though, eh?

I don’t know the guy personally or how he fits into my close-knit group as I tell him he doesn’t have a job at my club any more.

And there’s the tricky conundrum for Cook.

Is backing and the manager’s confidence the way to help the Irishman find that rich vein of form as the season progresses?

Would Murphy benefit from a stronger challenge for his position than teenage talent Alex Bass?

Or are there times when Cook simply has to take a clinical, ruthless approach, send him on his way and bring in a new number one goalkeeper?

That’s what managers are paid for.