Williams helping to dispel Pompey myth

Ryan Williams
Ryan Williams
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Pompey myths of recent times.

Firstly, Mark Burchill was responsible for kicking the ball at Harry Redknapp’s head.

Secondly, Lucius Peart and David Lampitt were behind the controversial season ticket hikes.

Thirdly, Steve Cotterill doesn’t like kids.

Bunkum, piffle, balderdash, rot and twaddle.

They may be the beliefs shared by some Blues fans out there, yet they could not be more wrong.

It was Terry Parker who smacked Redknapp in the back of the head with a Mitre football during a television interview.

The defender would go on to join Oxford United and drift off into the non-league scene.

It was others on Pompey’s board who cranked up season ticket costs which prompted uproar this summer, too.

Peart and Lampitt had actually advised prices remained competitive.

As for Cotterill’s aversion to fielding youngsters, let’s use Ryan Williams as exhibit A.

Don’t forget Joel Ward and Nadir Ciftci.

Ciftci, of course, fell from grace when he announced he turned down a contract and wanted out.

Cotterill was desperate to keep him.

However, Ciftci had other ideas and walked out for Kayserispor.

You see, there appears to be a theory Pompey’s boss has no interest in blooding youngsters.

A perceived playground bully gleefully kicking kids off his turf before proudly standing with hands on hips surveying his handy work. It’s a label hung around his neck since shortly arriving at Fratton Park as boss.

What’s more, it is not even accurate.

Granted, Matt Ritchie, Marlon Pack, Liam O’Brien, Tom Kilbey, Billy Goddard, Perry Ryan, Ellis Martin and Peter Gregory were all shown the door by Cotterill.

The majority of them local lads, home-grown talent clubs such as Pompey should nowadays be plotting their future with.

Except, in Cotterill’s opinion, none were yet good enough for the Championship.

Managers live and die by judgement calls – those were his.

Pompey’s boss has aspirations of hauling his side back into the Premier League.

He is desperate for Fratton Park success.

However, having observed such youngsters over half a season at the very least, he decided they would not assist his vision.

As it stands, three of them are currently with League Two sides.

One is with Havant & Waterlooville.

Another is presently without a club.

The whereabouts of the final three are unknown.

Fair to say then, in general, Cotterill has yet to be proven wrong.

Of course, the likes of Ritchie, Pack and O’Brien do appear to have futures in the game.

Their ability to make a professional career out of football has never been questioned.

The big debate is: at what level?

Pompey’s boss certainly didn’t think it would be at Championship level in the immediate future.

That is why Ritchie was sold to Swindon back in January for a fee of around £250,000.

That is why Pack was allowed to turn his season-long loan at Cheltenham into a permanent switch.

And that is why O’Brien was released by mutual consent and has been with Barnet since January.

All three played regular football last term to suggest they have excellent futures.

Aged 19 and 20 respectively, O’Brien and Pack have plenty of time to climb back up the leagues.

But not swiftly enough for Cotterill’s to make them part of his Pompey rebuild.

As for Ritchie, the 21-year-old continues to impress tremendously at the County Ground.

Yet, at present, it must not be overlooked that Swindon are two levels below Pompey’s current division.

The trio may yet bounce back to prove a few people wrong. Chances are they will.

Time may be on their side but it is not on Pompey’s.

Moving on and some fans were disappointed with the departure of Kilbey at the tail end of last season.

Told he would not receive a new deal, the 20-year-old asked to finish the season out on loan in a bid for regular first-team football.

He ended up at Lincoln for the final two months, making seven appearances.

They were relegated from League Two and a permanent deal was not pursued.

Kilbey then trialled at Leyton Orient this summer without success.

A month of the season gone, according to his Twitter account he is currently without a club at any level.

Cotterill also released all four of his first-year professionals.

Ryan recently signed for the Hawks after impressing on trial in the summer.

However, firstly he made one appearance for Bognor.

The whereabouts of Gregory, Goddard and Martin are unknown.

Apologies if they have been overlooked.

But even Google has been unable to locate them.

Unfortunately, all four were not highly-regarded by Pompey’s manager.

They would make just two substitute appearances between them.

In fact, Gregory and Martin were the only two who ever featured on the bench.

Instead Cotterill opted to go short, although, admittedly, that was also politically motivated.

After all, a small bench sends out an important signal to your owners.

Regardless, he didn’t believe such players were of the required standard, opting against making them part of his regular matchday squad.

In the here and now, Williams has come to the forefront.

The 17-year-old impressed sufficiently during pre-season to win himself a permanent spot in Cotterill’s squad.

The Blues boss continues to wax lyrical about a player he is convinced has an excellent future in the game.

Even when matchday squad restrictions ensure there is not a place on the bench for the Australian, his manager takes him along to the matches.

Williams is being nurtured for great things by Steve Cotterill.

But of course, as the myth goes, he does not like youth.