Will Pompey fans be left to regret their wishes?

Steve Cotterill
Steve Cotterill

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Football and clichés have long been comfortable bedfellows.

Whether it’s a pundit trotting out a tired old line masquerading as analysis or players conforming to their Louis Vuitton washbag-carrying and oversized watch-wearing ways, the game is saturated with them.

But along with the stereotypes sit certain truisms.

And one of football’s great truisms is you never know what’s around the corner.

Which brings us nicely to a must-win game which isn’t a must-win game against Barnsley this Saturday tea-time.

A clash which looks increasingly likely to be played out against the latest round of managerial hoo-ha seen at Fratton Park.

Not many would have expected Steve Cotterill to be wanted at other clubs given a stuttering start to the season at Pompey.

But this game moves in mysterious ways and his fire-fighting at Fratton Park over much of the past 16 months has not gone unnoticed on the banks of the River Trent.

It seems Nottingham Forest believe Cotterill could be ideal for them given the current financial restraints they are working under.

The past few days also saw the 47-year-old linked with Bristol City, talk which was wide of the mark.

The betting patterns have more credence with Forest, though, with word emerging from the east Midlands he is on a shortlist of three for the job with Mark Robins and Kevin MacDonald.

All of this makes for an intriguing and tantalising build-up to this weekend’s Sky-televised meeting with Keith Hill’s Tykes.

My colleague at The News, Steve Wilson, recently expressed his ire at the use of the term ‘must-win game’ in a recent edition of our popular Pompey Talk podcast.

He was speaking in context of its use when a game quite clearly isn’t a must win.

For Steve, a must-win game is when a team needs to win it to avoid relegation or to get their hands on a title.

He has a point but, after one win in seven, Barnsley simply feels like a must-win game.

The reason, first and foremost, for that is the Blues need to collect three points to fire their campaign once again.

A result or two would undoubtedly go a long way to clearing Cotterill of the sniping he’s receiving from some sections of the Fratton faithful, too.

It seems those fans, especially those making their feelings known online, could now get what they want.

Just not in the circumstances anticipated.

Despite the grumbles there has been a marked air of sensibility about Cotterill’s position from many punters over the past few days.

Among the usual hysteria of calls for a manager’s head after a run of indifferent form, has been a groundswell of backing for the former Notts County and Burnley boss to be given until Christmas to get things right.

That has followed on from Roman Dubov speaking out in support of the man in charge of his team, with the Russian underlining the need for a long-term view to be taken.

Now Forest’s overtures shift the whole saga on once more.

It could be that interest in Cotterill’s services will strengthen his hand for a new deal at Pompey, with his current agreement running until 2013.

There’s little doubt a club chasing a manager will always benefit one person in the end. And one way or the other, that person is the manager.

Questions about loyalty on his part will be answered as this unexpected drama is played out over the coming days, too.

But those fans who have made their feelings known about Cotterill have certainly been heard by the man from Cheltenham.

Which brings us to another final truth, one belonging to the universe as much as football: Careful what you wish for – you might just receive it.