Ex-Blues coach keen on Fratton return

Paul Groves spent four years as Pompey coach
Paul Groves spent four years as Pompey coach
Jack Whatmough. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey youngster earns Thompson praise

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Bournemouth boss Paul Groves insists he will be doing everything he can to take the emotion out of his return to Fratton Park.

The former Blues coach spent four years at Fratton Park after joining the coaching staff under Harry Redknapp in 2006.

Now he’ll lead the Cherries back to his old stomping ground on the opening day of the new season, knowing it will add some interest with plenty of connections between the two clubs.

Groves told BBC Radio Solent: ‘It’s a great fixture for the fans. It is a fantastic attraction to go and play at Portsmouth with the two clubs being so close together.

‘One or two of the staff, including myself, have worked at Portsmouth.

‘It gives the game a bit of added spice and makes it extra special but at the end of the day the result is the most important thing and those sentiments have to go out of the window.’

Groves briefly stepped up to become Pompey’s caretaker manager when Paul Hart was sacked in 2009, only for Avram Grant to be installed two days later. But he became a trusted lieutenant under the popular Israeli and eventually followed him to join the West Ham coaching staff in July 2010.

When Grant was dismissed following the Hammers’ Premier League relegation, Groves became Bournemouth’s youth-team manager.

He was then appointed to replace ex-Pompey striker Lee Bradbury as manager towards the end of last season.

Bournemouth have been backed by Russian investment in recent times and will be among the fancied sides for promotion from League One.

But Groves is predicting a tough start for the Cherries.

He said: ‘As a manager, you try to take the emotion out of it but you look at the first few fixtures and you see Portsmouth and Sheffield United, which are tough fixtures.

‘But you do have to play them at some stage of the season and you have to make sure you are as best prepared as you can be.’