Whittingham ready to hand over reins

Stuart Gray and Guy Whittingham congratulate each other on a job well done
Stuart Gray and Guy Whittingham congratulate each other on a job well done
Derry City winger Ronan Curtis

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The room is uninhabited, the dust smothers the plasma television screen, the blinds still tightly shut.

Steve Cotterill’s former Eastleigh training ground office has been untouched since he walked out on Pompey 27 days ago.

Guy Whittingham and Stuart Gray have been at the helm since that exit.

Yet the duo have treated their elevation as strictly temporary.

No managerial pretensions, no temptation to jump into the golden shoes or recline in the jewelled throne.

Their office lies next door – and not even their new-found power has persuaded them to relocate.

Whittingham and Gray were always going to return to the coaching ranks.

Once Michael Appleton is finally appointed that wish will be granted.

History shows Paul Hart was appointed permanently on a two-year deal in July 2009 on the back of his 14-match caretaker spell.

Velimir Zajec became boss in December 2004 following six matches in temporary charge after Harry Redknapp had left for Southampton.

No such aspirations for Whittingham, however.

Unquestionably, 10 points from six matches has been a magnificent return from the duo.

It has provided an excellent platform for Appleton to build on once the wrangling with West Brom has reached a satisfactory conclusion.

And Whittingham insists both he and Gray always treated the managerial arrangement as nothing more than a stop gap.

He said: ‘I don’t think it will be difficult going back to my old role.

‘Neither Stuart or myself have ever thought of ourselves as the manager.

‘We know what we are, we know we like coaching and it’s not for us to dictate in any way what we want this club to do.

‘In games we are in charge of the players, but we have never felt in the position to say “I am the manager and you do this”.

‘We have approached things in the right way.

‘It has been tough talking to the press, though. I’ve been trying to keep the straight bat going and saying “I don’t know” quite a lot!

‘I suppose a difficult part is the lots of little things that managers have to deal with.

‘It hasn’t helped that our secretary, Ash (Ashleigh Emberson), has been away as well. I’ve had to do a lot of admin.

‘It has been enjoyable – Stuart and I have both enjoyed it – we’ve tried to do things the right way and results have been okay.

‘I wouldn’t say that anything has been that difficult, but it’s a bit more time-consuming.

‘And I have found myself waking up in the morning and scribbling things down!’

Few can argue Whittingham and Gray have not been a success as caretaker managers.

With three wins and a draw from their six matches, they have more than doubled Pompey’s points tally.

Of those games, Derby was the only fixture the side failed to perform in.

Even then that was during a 30-minute first-half spell which ultimately sent them on their way to a 3-1 defeat.

The likes of Joe Jordan and before him Bob McNab failed to win any of their matches as caretaker bosses.

Not so the first-team coaches soon to return to their favoured roles.

He added: ‘At Derby we had a few raised voices. That’s the one that sticks out because we had a bad 20-30 minutes.

‘You look back and think “should we have done something different or should I have suggested something different?”.

‘In hindsight, you could say “yes”, but you don’t have that foresight to do it.

‘We went there on the back of three good performances so you don’t see that first 20 minutes at Derby happening and I don’t think many would have done.

‘That was a big learning curve, but they put that right at Crystal Palace.

‘We have to remind them that the performance at Palace is their true character.

‘That’s what they are really like.’