States return holds no fear for Cotterill

Joel Ward, Marlon Pack and Tommy Smith failed to enjoy Pompey's last trip to America
Joel Ward, Marlon Pack and Tommy Smith failed to enjoy Pompey's last trip to America
Former Pompey manager Alan Ball

On this day: Tributes pour in for former Pompey boss Ball

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One word to strike fear into the hearts of Pompey – America.

Not that the current favoured pre-season destination should fill anyone with dread.

After all, this time it comes with the Steve Cotterill seal of approval.

Of course, the Blues boss was the harshest critic of the farce which dragged his squad to Chicago, San Diego, Ventura and Washington last summer.

There was also a trip to Edmonton, Canada, thrown in for good measure as the squad racked up eight flights in 12 days.

Now the search is on for the location for the next pre-season.

Cotterill has already ventured to one contender – Phuket in Thailand – to assess the facilities they can offer.

Austria, where he took former clubs Burnley and Stoke previously, is also in the frame.

At the moment, though, the east coast of America appears to have edged ahead.

And, despite the shambles of his last visit to the States, Cotterill is adamant he would have no qualms in revisiting that part of the world.

He said: ‘I went to something the other week and our supporters asked “where are we going?” because they want to get everything booked and nailed down.

‘I’m working on it as quickly as I can because I also want to know what we are doing. I know it is important.

‘What I don’t want is another pre-season like the one we had last time.

‘I can say 100 per cent we will not be slapping over America, Canada and God knows where this time.

‘I have seen the whys and the wherefores of Thailand.

‘Now I’m just waiting for a little bit of information on returning to America – and it will take a couple of weeks for that to get sorted.

‘The other one is Austria, which is a fantastic trip.

‘I have been there a few times and that would be more than adequate.

‘But America could be free and that is what I must look into. That would be where I contemplate going.

‘But it won’t be anything like last year.

‘I’ve not got a problem with going back there, somewhere like Carolina and Washington I know.

‘I know they have very good facilities because I have seen them before. I know roughly where we will be.

‘The hotels and facilities last year were good, it was just the amount of travel we had.

‘The east coast is not too bad.

‘We are talking about a six-hour flight there with a time difference of five hours as opposed to the last time we went.

‘It will be only one flight as well and could be the best I can get for the least possible pay.

‘We would have to pay for Austria, whereas the one in Thailand would just be the flights we need to subsidise.

‘The America one, we could get it all subsidised. I am just waiting to hear more details.’

Thailand as a destination at this stage does look dead in the water.

Conceivably, Pompey could save expenses by staying at the hotel of owners Balram Chainrai and Levi Kushnir in the city.

But it is the issue of the pitches which throws up the biggest concern.

And that has already forced Cotterill to start investigating a return to America for this summer’s pre-season.

He added: ‘I did the rounds in Phuket and took in a few pitches.

‘There were a couple of facilities within 15 to 20 minutes of the hotel that probably wouldn’t have been up to the standard we would want to train on.

‘One was an artificial pitch which we wouldn’t have wanted to train on, while the dressing rooms were still being built.

‘I am sure these will be finished but these are all the things you wouldn’t necessarily want to take a risk on.

‘The artificial pitch was nice but, for sure, we couldn’t train on that every day.

‘There were a couple of other grass pitches that were a little bit worse for wear.

‘Nice facilities but the pitches were not really what we would need.

‘There was another one I saw right at the top end of the island that was closer to the airport.

‘That was a fantastic facility.

‘One of the guys said to me it was a £60m development with an Olympic swimming pool and fantastic new technology in the gym – it had everything.

‘Unfortunately, the main pitch in the stadium was an artificial surface again.

‘With the weather out there, obviously it is very, very difficult for the people to maintain a grass pitch.’