Cotterill looking forward to return to ‘special club’

Steve Cotterill has won three of his first four matches in charge of Nottingham Forest
Steve Cotterill has won three of his first four matches in charge of Nottingham Forest
Pompey suffered defeat to Charlton. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Steve Cotterill surveyed his looming Fratton Park return and insisted: I’m looking forward to it.

It has been 21 days since the 47-year-old left the Blues to join Nottingham Forest.

Now the quirks of the football fixture list have thrown up a swift reunion – and on fireworks night.

Tomorrow, Cotterill will bring new club Forest to Fratton Park having garnered three wins from his first four matches in charge.

During his 16 months with Pompey, he steered the side away from relegation in one of the most testing periods in the club’s history.

Just as crucially, Cotterill helped lay a stable platform for the Blues’ next manager to build on.

Nonetheless, Pompey’s disappointing opening to this campaign meant that a section of supporters were calling for his head in the build-up to his departure for the East Midlands.

It all means an interesting Fratton faithful reaction awaits Cotterill tomorrow.

But he is relishing catching up with those friends and fans he has left behind.

Cotterill said: ‘I am looking forward to it, I really am.

‘Tomorrow will mean a lot to me. My time at Pompey meant a lot to me, it really did.

‘I don’t want to rake over old ground but they were tough times for us all.

‘So to come out the other end of it was a fantastic achievement by everybody at the football club. What’s more, the club is still up and running and alive.

‘I think the Pompey fans appreciated the work I did. They were fantastic to me, even through all the bad times – really supportive.

‘In fact, I have had lots of letters and cards up here from them wishing me luck in my new job. I’ve put them up on the side in my office.

‘Then there’s the coaching staff. It will be great to see them again.

‘I have spoken to nearly all of them since I left. I would do, though – I went through a lot with all of the guys there.

‘Without a shadow of a doubt I have a lot of good work friends at that club.

‘I have even had a few texts and messages from players, although I have not rung them – that would be unfair to keep ringing them.

‘There have been text messages, though, probably more of them to me to wish me good luck at Forest.

‘It’s a great club with a lot of good people involved. I can’t speak highly enough of them all.

‘And I’m looking forward to going back.’

Cotterill’s City Ground arrival has lifted them one point ahead of Pompey going into tomorrow’s game.

Under Guy Whittingham and Stuart Gray, the Blues themselves have enjoyed an upturn in fortunes.

Yet both clubs are still hovering above the relegation zone, positions neither anticipated being in at the start of the campaign.

Regardless, Cotterill is adamant that on October 14 he left behind a club in a far better shape than it was in when he first arrived.

He added: ‘I always said that if I left Pompey better than when I found it, I would have definitely done my job.

‘And that is what I feel I managed to achieve.

‘Without a shadow of a doubt, the club is in a far better position than when I took over.

‘I reduced the average age by seven years and the playing budget was reduced by two thirds.

‘With all due respect, last season we were within eight games of reaching the play-offs, which was nothing short of amazing.

‘The club has moved on and everybody deserves credit for that.’