Pompey boss lauds Michael Smith talents

Michael Smith   Picture: Joe Pepler
Michael Smith Picture: Joe Pepler
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United for a third spell, Michael Smith is a player Paul Cook trusts.

And Pompey’s boss is convinced he can aid the development of a 24-year-old in need of a new home to flourish.

There is a stereotype about big lads up front – and I am not being disrespectful to anybody – but Michael is very good at a lot of things

Paul Cook

The striker yesterday joined the Blues on a two-year deal following agreement with Swindon for an undisclosed fee.

Cook’s fifth summer recruit is, of course, a familiar face to the Fratton faithful after 16 appearances and four goals in a loan spell last season.

Similarly, Pompey’s boss and Smith are well-acquainted, their paths initially crossing at Accrington in early 2012.

During that period, Smith was a 20-year-old on loan from Charlton.

Cook has continued to monitor the forward’s career – and remains a firm admirer.

He said: ‘All managers have types of players they like and I see qualities in Michael I think we can develop so he can be a really strong footballer for this club.

‘You look at his age, his touch, his awareness, he will bring the attributes you could see we missed in the latter play-off games.

‘I had him on loan at Accrington as a very young boy and his career was progressing really through to Swindon, up to the loan move to Barnsley really, when it just went a little bit flat.

‘That’s football, for whatever reason his career hasn’t gone on.

‘But it has only been one year.

‘We actually tried to get him when I first arrived at Pompey and he was going to go to Sheffield United at the time for a lot of money.

‘When you don’t have a strong pre-season and don’t have a home where you feel loved then it is quick for your head to drop.

‘For whatever reason it never worked out at Barnsley and Swindon after having a fantastic season finishing at Wembley and getting beat by a strong Preston.

‘Michael is a really good player. There is a stereotype about big lads up front – and I am not being disrespectful to anybody – but Michael is very good at a lot of things.

‘He has a great first touch, has great control and can win headers. Other lads in the league would be better at some of those things, such as probably being more physical, but he brings a bit of everything to the table.

‘AFC Wimbledon away, Accrington away, Bristol Rovers at home, these type of games Michael played a prominent role with Gary Roberts.

‘He can have a strong pre-season, feel loved and be at home at a club now instead of being out on loan.

‘And I feel we can develop Michael into a top player for us.’

Pompey lost only three times during Smith’s 13 starts, winning seven of them.

It meant they earned an average 1.84 points per match whenever he was named in the starting XI.

It’s a statistic which impresses Cook.

He added: ‘You look at his record in our team and points per game, it’s fantastic.

‘All teams are built on different types. Portsmouth fans will appreciate over the years there have been the likes of Prosinecki, Walsh, Merson, always different types.

‘When you get a good team together you have the right blend.’