On this day: Portsmouth keen on West Ham's Carlton Cole... Blues and Man City in battle for Yossi Benayoun

We take a look back at what was making The News’ back-page headlines from days gone by...

Thursday, 20th June 2019, 5:05 pm
Charlton striker Carlton Cole

Striker Cole in Pompey’s sights (2005)

On this day in 2005, Pompey opened dialogue with Chelsea over striker Carlton Cole

Milan Mandaric believed the England-under 21 star had huge potential despite a disappointing season on loan at Aston Villa.

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Spurs also want Cole but a fall-out between the clubs over Frank Arnesen’s move to Stamford Bridge threatened to wreck any deal.

That left Mandaric poised to exploit his good relationship with Chelsea for a player they were willing to sell for around £2m. 

Saints’ Kevin Phillips also remained in Pompey’s thinking as they searched for up to two strikers.

Cole struggled to emulate his England form at Villa where he scored just three goals in 18 Premier League starts.

The then 21-year-old claimed he was not treated properly by boss David O’Leary.

But Mandaric believed Cole was exactly the type of player who would thrive under the coaching of Pompey boss Alain Perrin.

He told The News: ‘I’m keen on the boy Cole from Chelsea. He’s a big lad – an England under-21 player with a lot of potential. 

'He’s quick and strong, can hold up the ball well and is good in the box. 

'He’s a handful.

‘If we have the coaching staff I think we have, I believe he’s a player who will really progress and explode. 

‘You need to bring in young players. The outlay may be significant, but he would be a good investment. 

‘There is dialogue with Chelsea. I think we’re in a good position because we have a good relationship with them. 

‘Alongside him I’d like to bring in someone who is a scoring machine, a more experienced player to help him in the first year or so. 

'That’s why a player like Kevin Phillips is on our list, although we have not pursued that one aggressively so far.’ 

Primus: I’d love us to sign my pal Sol (2006)

Linvoy Primus was dreaming of teaming up with his pal Sol Campbell.

At the time the defender was eager Pompey to land the England star he used to play alongside as a lad.

Primus believed capturing Campbell would be symbolic of the exciting future forecast at Fratton Park.

The pair played together for Newham Borough in the east end of London before Primus joined Charlton and Campbell went to Spurs.

There was potential the two could form a powerful central defensive pairing if Harry Redknapp persuaded Campbell to sign from Arsenal.

But it wasn’t like that at Newham – where Primus was a winger setting up goals for Campbell, a striker. 

The Pompey defender, who agreed a new two-year deal the previous month, said: ‘I know Sol well. We grew up playing for the same borough team in the east end of London, from the age of about 12. 

‘He was the star of the team – on another level from everyone else.

'He was so good he played with us, a year above his age group.

‘Sol was strong and quick, and played in midfield or up front. He scored loads of goals. 

‘He wasn’t a centre-half then. I thought he would make it as a striker. He only got converted into a defender at Spurs.

‘We played together for two or three years before he went off to White Hart Lane. 

‘I played left-back and right-wing. Work that out! I played on the wing because I was quick. I just got the ball and ran at people.

‘I didn’t score too many, but I set up a few.

‘We always say hello and have a chat when we see each other. What a great signing Sol would be – he’s an England international.’ 

Campbell’s Arsenal days appear uncertain after a mixed season at Highbury, despite a goal in the Champions League final.

But Primus believed the 31-year-old could look forward to great times at Pompey.

Primus added: 'It’s exciting. The way we finished last season and the players we’re talking about signing has changed everything.

‘We’re heading the way we all dreamed of. 

‘When Sacha Gaydamak took over, Harry Redknapp told all of the existing players to be here next season because the club was going to go forward. 

‘We’re no longer Cinderella doing the cleaning. We’re going to the ball. I can’t wait for next season.’  

Pompey set to battle it out for Liverpool’s Benayoun (2008)

Pompey and Manchester City were set to go head to head for Yossi Benayoun.

But Harry Redknapp admitted he faced a battle to prise the winger away from Liverpool. 

The Israel international had emerged as the latest summer transfer target for the Blues boss.

Sources in the north said both Redknapp and City boss Mark Hughes were keen on the £6m wide-man.

That’s despite Reading winger Glen Little becoming Pompey’s first signing of the summer.

Talk continued to circulate on Merseyside of Pompey’s interest in Peter Crouch.

But the Blues were still reluctant to meet the Reds’ valuation of the England international.

Redknapp felt he was short on options on the right, with John Utaka the only real player who could be used wide in that role last season.

Utaka flattered to deceive at times in that position, and is known to prefer playing in an out-and-out attacking role. 

And Little’s signing only emerged at the last minute, with Redknapp happy to take a punt on the player after a year out with injury. 

Benayoun was understood to be frustrated at a lack of playing time at Liverpool.

But with the 28-year-old moving to Anfield only the previous summer, Reds boss Rafa Benitez was keen to keep hold of him.

Redknapp told The News: ‘Of course I’d like to have someone like Yossi Benayoun.

‘He’s a top player. I don’t know what the chances are of getting him out of Liverpool. 

‘It’s known I like Crouchie, too. But it doesn’t look like anything is happening there.

'I think Liverpool want a bit too much money for him.

‘If that’s the case then we’ll move on to the next option.’ 

Redknapp had made it clear he wanted his team strengthened on the right, as well as reinforcements in the middle of defence, up front and at left-back.

But chief executive Peter Storrie didn't expect any more movement to follow Little’s whirlwind arrival.

He said: ‘We know who our targets are.

‘At the same time, though, it is the holiday period and there are the European Championships.

‘I think most things will happen in the first and second weeks of July. 

‘I’m going to have a little break to get away now before things start heating up for that.

‘But at this stage there is nothing happening.’