Pompey statement defies football’s knee-jerk nature

Pompey boss Kenny Jackett was handed a fresh Fratton Park contract this week  Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett was handed a fresh Fratton Park contract this week Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Clarke celebrates his goal at MK Dons. Picture: Joe Pepler

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The discarded trophy surveyed the unveiling from the room’s corner, a gatecrasher glaringly out of place.

Kenny Jackett had been introduced as Pompey’s boss at the training ground gathering that Friday afternoon in June, a two-year deal sealing his arrival.

Former Blues manager Paul Cook with his Sky Bet Manager of the Month award for April

Former Blues manager Paul Cook with his Sky Bet Manager of the Month award for April

Among onlookers was the Sky Bet League Two Manager of the Month award – an accolade which failed to find Paul Cook’s bin bag, having swept away his belongings days earlier.

The managerial predecessor had consistently protested such honours meant little. The fact his April trophy failed to accompany him on the drive to Wigan suggests he spoke the truth.

Bags packed, room cleared, a new occupant moving in, and the sole remnant of the Cook reign managed to linger beyond his exit just long enough to spy on the identity of the new incumbent.

A managerial regeneration was in progress, a fresh era breezing through Pompey.

Days later that trophy, like the Cook regime, had been washed away. Its current whereabouts is still to be determined.

Yet few could have anticipated that, approaching six months later, newcomer Jackett’s presence would be strengthened by a fresh contract.

Ever since clinching promotion at Meadow Lane, Cook had battled for new terms to satisfy his financial demands, culminating in a departure for the DW Stadium.

In contrast, Jackett earned a fresh deal after only 23 matches.

While Wigan stand second in League One, continuing to suggest they are a side destined to chalk up yet another Cook promotion, further down the league Jackett was handed job security.

A total of 14 managers have been jettisoned from English clubs this season, with the most recent victim being Tony Pulis at West Bromwich Albion on Monday morning.

In terms of the Blues’ League One playground, Lee Clark, John Sheridan, Adrian Pennock and Justin Edinburgh have paid the price since August’s opening weekend.

Amid these toddler tantrum-kicking times of screaming for change upon every defeat, suddenly Pompey have delivered a compelling statement to football.

Chairman Michael Eisner and his board have long preached stability and long-term strategy. Now they have emphatically demonstrated their commitment towards patience.

In an era when managers can be dismissed following 23 matches, perhaps it is not too outrageous to issue a new contract based upon the same timescale.

After all, five Fratton Park bosses have been sacked before even reaching that tally.

Richie Barker totalled 20 games during his 109-day tenure, while Alain Perrin fared marginally better at 21.

In terms of tenures as permanent managers, former caretakers Velimir Zajec (15), Tony Adams (21) and Guy Whittingham (22) also suffered in football’s quick-fire environment.

As for Steve Claridge, the man later brushed off as a caretaker by Milan Mandaric yet clearly wasn’t, he reached 23 matches – the same figure as Jackett when his new deal arrived.

Unquestionably, Tuesday’s announcement of a contract extension until 2021 came as a surprise to those outside the club’s boardroom.

Nonetheless, it was indicative of the Tornante Group’s approach towards overseeing the club they successfully took charge of in August.

Upon that long-anticipated arrival, they had pledged to the manager appointed during the last act of fan ownership that his tenancy length would be increased.

That promise didn’t falter through a four-match losing streak and neither was it strengthened during a three-game winning run.

Eisner’s desire to implement a long-term vision rather than drive a short-term thrill resulted in identifying the boss he inherited as the ideal figurehead.

There had, of course, been whispers of suitors, chat of admiring glances fired in Jackett’s direction by admirers enchanted by his career record at previous appointments.

Both QPR and Wales still had managers at the helm when it was suggested the former Wolves boss had attracted their attention. Rangers owner Tony Fernandes swiftly smothered supposed interest, while the Wales link had originally emanated from various bookies.

Granted, with 31 caps for the country he qualified through his Welsh-born dad, it was not an outrageous link. Certainly a natural fit.

That opportunity may yet arrive, depending on how Jackett continues to perform at Fratton Park during his extended period.

Still, Pompey remains the 55-year-old’s focus, emphasised by his willingness to relocate on the south coast with his wife, residing in the Gunwharf area.

He is a forward-thinking manager, whose make-up has been honed through coaching at youth-team level, before graduating on to first teams and achieving success at Swansea, Millwall and Wolves.

Jackett’s knowledge of football clubs is all-encompassing and an attribute to be prized by any owner eager to be constructive.

Ultimately, he will be judged on results, nobody is immune from such scrutiny, even with the hierarchy decreeing a patient approach.

Contracts can easily be trumped, particularly by owners with financial clout.

As it stands, ahead of today’s visit of Plymouth, the Blues occupy 11th spot – five points adrift of the play-offs and eight points ahead of the relegation zone.

A steady and satisfactory start as Jackett adapts the squad to League One standard and potentially beyond.

And maybe soon the monthly managerial accolades occupying his office will be his rather than the outcasts of his predecessor.