Coy Cook's delight with Pompey recruitment plans
The secret's out, although Paul Cook remains unusually coy.
The long-awaited scouting overhaul is progressing at pace – and Pompey are hoping to reap the rewards.
This summer saw the arrival of Neil Howarth as head of recruitment following two years serving as Bury’s head of operation and player analysis.
Cook identified the former Cheltenham assistant boss as the ideal candidate to transform the Blues’ player-spotting set-up.
Already England C international striker Jamal Lowe has been pinpointed by Howarth and will link-up at Fratton Park in January.
The former Burnley player is continuing to oversee the hunt for more talent during a country-wide search.
Although Cook is a little reticent to reveal the full extent of his recruitment renovation.
He said: ‘It’s going well, although I would rather we kept very quiet about it.
‘We are improving on the recruitment side and I’m sure over the next year or two will see some good changes in it.
‘I’m not telling you what has been done, though! Recruitment is about not telling people.
‘We are all looking for the same thing. If you are going to find the players out there you need to be watching different types of games, visiting different countries even.
‘We have got to get out there now and find players.
‘We are a good, strong football club and, in my opinion, scouting in League Two can be pretty much of a muchness, lads do the rounds and the circuits.
‘I think it’s an avenue of the club which must improve.
‘If you look at most teams promoted from League Two, there is a pool of players who do seem to go round and round.
‘So somewhere along the line, if we are going to do better, we would like to find one or two we believe can go on.
‘Neil Howarth has come in as chief scout and we feel we are making good strides.
‘We have known him for quite a bit and are obviously delighted he has come in, now we are looking at having other scouts in other areas – and it is progressing really well.
‘Again, this is part and parcel of building your club, that network is so important.’
Andy Melville was Pompey’s previous head of recruitment, yet was dismissed following Cook’s May 2015 arrival.
This summer Northampton Town appointed him in a similar role.
Now, with Howarth on board, Cook is satisfied with development in that field.
He added: ‘All of a sudden Jamal looks a decent signing and we were obviously in there very quickly, so well done to Neil Howarth.
‘Let’s see how good he is – and then I might claim Jamal as mine!’
‘We are all after certain types of player, we want to improve our squad all the time, we want to be able to say the team which goes onto the pitch has lads physically fit, strong and athletic, there are so many boxes to tick.
‘Keeping it a little bit private is good and healthy and hopefully we will see a couple of signings coming through.’