Wilson’s Wisdom: New Pompey team needs time to grow

Paul Cook. Picture: Colin Farmery
Paul Cook. Picture: Colin Farmery
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At what point are we all allowed to get a bit excited about the new season?

Do we have to keep our feet on the ground, expect a slow start from Pompey and play the long game with improvement to come over the course of a campaign?

Or do we look for that flying start, go out all-guns blazing from the very first minute of that first game of the season and then ride that wave of momentum for as long as possible?

The latter approach seemed to work in 2002-03 – the last time Pompey won promotion from any division.

Admittedly, that team had Paul Merson in it.

But while Harry Redknapp certainly has his faults and his critics, his default setting as a manager was to attack and aim high for success. His predecessor, Graham Rix, often used to trot out the mantra of steady progress.

Redknapp, however, wanted to do it all yesterday.

I recall Rix’s target of ‘mid-table mediocrity’ – a phrase which used to have former chairman Milan Mandaric pulling his hair out – as he attempted to put the building blocks in place to allow the club to grow step by step.

Mandaric lost patience with Rix, we all know the rest.

Redknapp was given the backing to assemble an entire new team – with the exception of Nigel Quashie – and stormed to the division one title in his first season.

But is it clutching at straws to think there might be a few similarities from that famous season to the current situation at Fratton Park?

Paul Cook – a manager who has built a reputation on an atttacking style of play – made things quite clear where he was aiming upon his appointment at Fratton Park.

Since taking the reins, he has overseen an extensive overhaul of the squad, he has brought in players predominantly from a higher level and set out a challenging target for his team.

That target may yet prove to be beyond Pompey over the course of the coming months.

But it’s worth noting that if you aim high and miss, you may not miss by much.

We’ve seen plenty of these almost complete summer turnovers of staff in recent years.

Some have been more successful than others.

Just ask Michael Appleton who built a new team in readiness for the 2012-13 season.

Brian Howard, Luke Rodgers, Izale McLeod, Kieran Djilali and the rest arrived.

Appleton certainly had his hands tied behind his back by the club’s owners and those short-term contracts played a part.

But that team struggled to show any sort of cohesion until things really began to crumble and Appleton jumped ship.

Ask most Pompey fans and they will be optimistic this new team will be able to perform from the starting gun under Cook.

But it can take time for things to click into place, players to know their roles and for the manager to understand his best team and formation.

A positive outlook is always a welcome addition and a fast start to the season will work wonders.

But let’s not get too distraught if it takes a bit of time to get going.