Spare a thought for Cotterill

Pompey boss Steve Cotterill deserves to know what's going on
Pompey boss Steve Cotterill deserves to know what's going on
A fixed-odds gambling machine Picture: Daniel Hambury/PA Wire

NEWS COMMENT: A move in the right direction but still not a win for all

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On the face of it, Bob Dylan and Pompey would not instantly appear to have too much in common.

The 1960s singer-songwriter may never have ventured down to Fratton Park – although he must have passed through the city when he played the Isle of Wight festival in 1969.

But a famous song of his may just be the soundtrack to what promises to be another critical period for the club this summer.

Because as far as Pompey are concerned: The times they are a-changin’. Again!

Just when we thought last summer’s upheaval was something that had to be endured in a bid for longer-term stability, anyone expecting a quiet and simple process of bringing in a few new recruits could be in for a rude awakening.

And at this rate, Steve Cotterill could be looking at reporting back for another pre-season and seeing some gaping holes in his squad.

It’s fair to say that Cotterill has big ambitions for what he hopes to achieve as manager of the club after coming in to play a huge role in steadying the ship in his first campaign.

But after already building two separate teams during his first season, Cotterill faces another huge rebuilding job this summer.

And Dylan’s famous protest song during times of social unrest may well ring true for the Pompey boss, who would be well within his rights to ask questions of those at the very top of his own organisation.

Cotterill is a manager who likes to plan ahead and get things in place exactly as he wants them.

At Burnley, he was not the type of manager to play brinkmanship on deadline day.

He prefers to identify his targets and get them signed and sealed as early as possible.

Sadly, his hopes of making some early inroads into building next season’s team are looking bleak.

And that could see some of his targets slip through his grasp, unless the club’s ownership becomes significantly clearer over the course of the next fortnight.

The ownership situation remains a murky one, with recent suggestions that the matter was set to be resolved imminently clearly wide of the mark.

As we all know, things are rarely black and white when it comes to owning Pompey, as promising news on takeovers is quickly replaced by long periods of silence.

Most fans are fed up with the whole thing.

If a new owner came in who was prepared to make sensible long-term investment and actually wanted to own the club, most supporters would gladly take that, regardless of his or her nationality.

Nobody who has seen the boom and bust with their own eyes wants or expects Cotterill to be given a Manchester City-style transfer budget.

But the majority would like to see him given some room for manoeuvre in the transfer market and with the wage budget.

The thorny problem, however, is that Cotterill doesn’t yet know who will be handing him his budget.

Presumably, Balram Chainrai and Levi Kushnir have drafted up some numbers to work with in their own worst-case scenario of still being ‘reluctant owners’ next season.

But it seems that Cotterill has not yet been told what those numbers are – and time is running out.

If new owners should take charge, that could change the whole landscape.

From rummaging around in the bargain bucket, Cotterill could be allowed to make shrewd signings that might have previously been out of reach.

For those players on the manager’s radar, they also have a difficult choice to make.

The word is that there are several potential new recruits available on free transfers who have made it clear to the manager they are ready and waiting to join the next phase of Pompey’s rejuvenation.

But until they see a contract in front of them simply requiring a signature, you can forgive them for keeping their options open so as not to find themselves without a club when pre-season rolls around.

And whether that means staying at their existing club or opting for a new challenge somewhere else that is less attractive than Pompey, these players can only wait so long when it comes to making an important decision on their careers.

The same issue also applies to the current staff at Fratton Park whose contracts are set to expire.

Hermann Hreidarsson and Danny Webber are just two of the men who would like to know exactly where their futures lie.

But if Cotterill can’t be given answers, then he has no chance of passing on the information to his players.

For David Nugent, the situation is rather different.

From the manager’s recent thoughts on the matter, it seems the former Preston man will be heading for pastures new at the end of the season.

Nugent, himself, insists a decision has not yet been made.

But even if he had decided that he was leaving, it’s unlikely he would want that news to come out just yet.

It’s hard to blame him too much or even question his loyalty.

He knows he can earn more elsewhere, and while some may point to the fact that it took him four years to produce anything like the kind of form that made him a £6m buy, if a more lucrative contract is on the table and is ready and waiting to be signed, it looks like it’s only a matter of time before his departure is announced.

Sadly, it’s a fact of life these days.

Players come and go but replacements are found.

Apparently, Cotterill already has his eye on someone to fill the void if he does lose Nugent.

But his hands are tied on attempting to bring him in.

The Blues boss will know that patience was an important attribute when he agreed to take the job but he needs information and the tools to manage.

He has high hopes of making a concerted effort to enable significant progress in the 2011-12 campaign.

Give him the full facts and even if he isn’t necessarily jumping for joy at what those facts are, at least he knows where he stands and can start making contingency plans.

But it’s the uncertainty and the wait for answers that represents his toughest task.