Evans: Cook’s Pompey exit was surprise but he’s a great boss

Paul Cook celebrates winning the League Two title at Pompey. Picture: Joe Pepler
Paul Cook celebrates winning the League Two title at Pompey. Picture: Joe Pepler
Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

Jackett defends Pompey recruitment

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Gareth Evans renewed his contract under the man who recruited him at Fratton Park.

Paul Cook then quit 14 days later.

Gareth Evans was surprised to see Paul Cook leave Pompey just days after clinching the League Two crown. Picture: Joe Pepler

Gareth Evans was surprised to see Paul Cook leave Pompey just days after clinching the League Two crown. Picture: Joe Pepler

Evans can be forgiven for his surprise at the Scouser walking out on Pompey to take over the reins at Wigan.

He wasn’t alone. Kyle Bennett also penned a new deal in May 2017 with no inkling boss Cook was soon to depart.

Today the man who steered the Blues to the League Two title returns to the south coast with the promotion-chasing Latics (5.30pm).

Evans is adamant he would have signed his two-year deal even if he was aware Cook was soon packing his bags.

After I signed and got home it came up on Sky Sports News that he was favourite to be Wigan manager

Gareth Evans

But he admitted it was a decision by his former manager which shocked.

The Blues midfielder said: ‘I was surprised.

‘He came down to Portsmouth to get them promoted and, considering the style he did it in, it was there to really kick on again – but never happened.

‘In my opinion, Wigan isn’t the club that Portsmouth is, with the fanbase and what have you.

‘He will have his own personal reasons and only he will know what those reasons were, whether it was down to going back home or politics at Portsmouth.

‘But I know for a fact he has a place in his heart for Portsmouth. He loves the football club and loved his time here.

‘I signed a new deal because it was Portsmouth.

‘I very much doubt whether Cook leaving would have changed my opinion on me wanting to stay or not. Of course I wanted to stay.

‘But I didn’t want him to go because I played every game under him and we’d won the league.

‘At the end of the day I was under the impression he was going to be manager.

‘I didn’t think for a minute he was going to be leaving, I didn’t think that was a possibility.

‘However, after I signed and got home it came up on Sky Sports News he was favourite to be Wigan manager!

‘I thought “what’s going on here, there’s going to be a change of manager”.’

‘It was a sad day when he moved on but it’s football.

‘We’ve got another good manager in Kenny Jackett.’

Cook recruited Evans as a free agent in July 2015.

He has since gone on to make 125 appearances and score 19 goals for the Blues.

He added: ‘Cook’s a great manager, I’ve nothing but good things to say about him.

‘He knew how to get the best out of his players, whether that was an arm around them or giving them a bit of a rollicking.

‘He seemed to have that knack of knowing what individual players needed and what motivated them.’