Cotts: American return will be a dream

A dejected Joel Ward sums up Pompey's pre-season tour of North America last year
A dejected Joel Ward sums up Pompey's pre-season tour of North America last year
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Sol Campbell on his return to Fratton Park in December. Picture: Joe Pepler

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The words still strike fear into the hearts of Pompey players and staff.

The memories are vivid and raw: The flights, the delays, the time zones, the shambles.

Pre-season in America, 2010 – the worst warm-up for a new campaign in football history.

Well, it’s back – but this time Steve Cotterill is making damn sure a repeat of last year’s chaos is not on the cards.

Cotterill today confirmed the Blues will gear up for the new season in the south east of America.

Nearly 100 hours of travel, eight flights, six hotels and airports, four different time zones, two delays and two cancellations were the dreaded stats which made a farce of the last trip Stateside.

Crucially, Cotterill had no role in organising the tour after arriving at the club a couple of weeks earlier.

This time, nothing has been okayed without the Pompey’s boss’ say so.

That means two flights will replace eight, with North Carolina the home for the Blues for their 12-night stint across the Pond.

The city of Charlotte in the state will host Cotterill’s side.

One game is organised for the stay with another set to follow, although names of opponents have not been confirmed.

But a training camp will form the focus of the trip to properly allow Pompey to ready themselves for the new campaign.

And Cotterill vowed pre-season in America Mk II would be a world away to 12 months ago, now he has been the one doing all the okaying.

‘This will be completely different to last time,’ said the Pompey boss after confirming the club’s tour.

‘Where we were in America last time was fine but it was the slapping around everywhere which wrecked it. This time there is going to be very little travelling.

‘We’ll be flying from here to Charlotte and will be in that area.

‘We’ve got one game sorted and another that we are working on.

‘I’ve got everything how we wanted it. Two flights there and back and a bus transfer.

‘It’s an unbelievable trip.

‘I didn’t want last year’s scenario. We’ve got two flights in 12 days. It was eight in 14 last year.

‘It’s been hard to sort but it’s been important to get it how we want it and how it is best for the players.

‘Last time it sounded a great trip but it was a nightmare.

‘I want everything to be done right for the players.

‘Doing things right is the most important thing and, believe me, that will be the case now I’m doing it.’

The American tour had looked to be in doubt since it was first mooted earlier this year.

Illness to a key organiser stalled its progress and saw Cotterill look for an alternative arrangement in Germany and Austria. Cost proved prohibitive on that front compared to the American option, which will cost them little in comparison.

The Pompey boss has now been able to seal the budget option which will allow his men to focus purely on getting ready for the season in decent conditions.

They will leave on Sunday, July 17, after entertaining Chelsea at Fratton Park the previous day and return on Friday, July 29.

Cotterill said: ‘The reason it has taken so long to get out in the public domain is the person who organised the trip has been very ill.

‘But he has carried on and got it sorted. We were running out of time but he has got it sorted.

‘I’m thankful to him for doing that, despite being really ill.

‘I’m in their debt, really. It’s great to have finally got it all finalised.’