The Cross Word: No striking emergency for Cook

Wes Thomas
Wes Thomas
Pompey midfielder Ben Close

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The guarantee of goals is the rarest of footballing commodities.

That’s why Pompey fans haven’t been satiated in their desire for the fabled ‘marquee’ signing Paul Cook is hunting for.

Cook was left to wonder aloud whether Reid takes attacking options to the level he craves. Is he that much better than what he’s already got?

And the opening of the emergency loan window doesn’t offer any guarantees of change on that front.

It’s an interesting insight into the mechanics of the Blues boss’ mind that he should passionately argue, why should it?

Last Tuesday came and went with all the hooplah Jim White could muster on Sky Sports, yet, like deadline day itself, it was ultimately underwhelming for Pompey.

It wasn’t for want of trying.

There were significant efforts made down a number of avenues to add a marksman of real repute.

The interest in Cardiff’s Eoin Doyle was openly debated and of no real shock given the Chesterfield connections.

Pompey attempted to politely ask the question of Plymouth when it came to Reuben Reid, as the days approached to the close of the window. The silence from Home Park was deafening.

Yet, it is the case of the Pilgrims striker which offers context for where Cook stands when it comes to improving his squad.

Reid is an asset at League Two level, as 20 and 21-goal returns over the past couple of seasons indicate.

But Cook was left to wonder aloud whether Reid takes attacking options to the level he craves. Is he that much better than what he’s already got?

Wes Thomas would have certainly added something new and missing up top through his pace and dynamism, as Pompey fans would testified following his previous loan stay at Fratton three years ago.

But the 28-year-old has been scoring goals in the Championship for Birmingham – and therein lies the problem.

For all the pull of Pompey and their potential, convincing a player to drop from English football’s second tier to the fourth is a challenge to extend even Cook’s whirlwind sales patter.

It was a move Thomas wasn’t prepared to make when there were opportunities in League One with Swindon.

And there were others. Players with even top-flight and international experience who Cook either couldn’t convince to move or felt wasn’t quite the right fit for his squad.

Yet, the Scouser remains sanguine. Recruitment is not a reactive situation for the Pompey boss. And it helps when you’re operating from the base of a strong start to the season.

Jayden Stockley’s honest endeavour has been appreciated by Pompey fans. Likewise, the predatory instincts Matt Tubbs possesses.

Whether you’d fancy Stockley to snaffle that half-chance or Tubbs to be the ideal figurehead in Cook’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation is another debate.

But embracing knee-jerk reactions to results and a culture of instant switches is a theme the Blues manager has constantly returned to.

It’s something we’ve seen at Pompey in recent times. Andy Awford used 37 players last season as the squad became bloated in such circumstances.

But why do good players become bad off the back of a negative outcome?

Cook is comfortable with his lot, has money left in the budget and a 24-man squad is a working group bigger than he initially anticipated.

‘The clamour is to change,’ Cook says. ‘Sometimes if you get caught up with it you can end up thinking too much. They are negative thoughts.’

So it’s a relaxed approach to the loan window, which runs to November 25, being employed.

But Pompey fans still have the promise of being excited by the outcome when Cook does take the attacking plunge.