Only one outcome once Forest came calling

Only one outcome was expected once Nottingham Forest moved in for Steve Cotterill
Only one outcome was expected once Nottingham Forest moved in for Steve Cotterill
John-Joe OToole, right, is consoled by team-mate David Buchanan at the final whistle at Fratton Park  Picture: Kirsty Edmonds

Pompey midfielder: No blame game over freak injury

Have your say

The debate will rage on whether Steve Cotterill’s departure is the right outcome for Portsmouth Football Club.

But, from the moment Nottingham Forest tabled their interest in the man from Cheltenham, it was the only outcome.

The powers that be at PO4 were presented with a conundrum to solve as soon as it became clear their manager was wanted on the banks of the Trent.

A man who was subject to increasing murmurs of discontent from sections of the home support, a fact not lost on the club’s owners, was in demand.

It’s true Cotterill’s first choice would have been to stay and see through the job he started last June.

He had seen the worst of the turmoil off and HMS Pompey was sailing into calmer waters under the new regime.

Supporter angst had bred uncertainty, however, and Cotterill wanted to use Forest’s interest as leverage to gain extra security.

A new deal was never likely to arrive for someone who was under contract until 2013 and led the club through what has been an inauspicious start to the season.

From that moment on, the writing was on the wall. Would Cotterill stay put and fear being out of a job in a few weeks, or take the three-and-half-year contract on offer at the City Ground?

And for Pompey, a situation has emerged where they have pocketed around £250,000 compensation for someone they would have had to pay up if they had seen fit to relieve him of his duties down the line.

So the perfect outcome for the scenario which had emerged. Maybe, but certainly the only realistic one.

What we all want, though, is the best outcome for this football club.

Is that the case here? Well, that’s what the pubs and clubs of the city have been debating since it became clear the 47-year-old was a goner.

A significant faction of the Fratton faithful wanted Cotterill out, but an at least equally-large section thought it ridiculous to call for his head 10 games into a season. Especially after what has gone before.

It is interesting to note that, despite a fair amount of noise from web-based supporters, there wasn’t a single audible chant against the manager or anti-Cotterill banner at games.

What there certainly was, however, was a united dressing room behind the boss and a real conviction this season could still go places.

Things could have been better on the pitch, but a tweak or two here and a bit of luck there would have seen improvement and confidence coursing through the team.

Now the real fear is the season will drift into a malaise through managerial turnarounds and a new face making his imprint on the club.

That brings the inevitable uncertainty, with a wasted campaign a real possibility as a result.

Fans will enjoy speculating on Cotterill’s successor, but realism has to replace fantasy.

Any heavy hitter would want spending assurances unlikely to arrive after a summer of reshaping.

More possible is a younger, hungrier option or someone willing to work with what is already in place.

That will be for the coming days, but first the question should be asked how Cotterill’s 16 months in charge will be remembered?

A period of transition? Certainly, and appreciation should be given to the man in charge for his role in helping the royal blue blood stop seeping from Pompey’s near-fatal wounds.

And maybe, just maybe, some will contemplate what could have been.