700 training drills, binging on 15 Portsmouth games and a vow not to die wondering - how the Cowleys are revolutionising the season

There will be no stone left unturned.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 12:00 pm

It’s a phrase which first surfaced in relation to the Cowleys around a fortnight ago, as The News conducted their due diligence into the incoming Pompey management team.

First the insight came from those who knew the men who have quickly invigorated and injected a dose of confidence into a capable group, who’d lost all sense of direction this season.

People like Hawks boss Paul Doswell and reporters who’d worked with the duo extensively referenced the idiom and their relentless work ethic, as a reassuring picture began to form contrary to a perception which had raised early concern.

Then it came up with the men themselves along with a whole host of mantras and metaphors which offered further insight into their modus operandi in an epic 75-minute Zoom call unveiling.

And, finally, it’s the players who will be asked to bring their ‘choreographed dances’ - as Danny Cowley illuminatingly calls it - to the League One stage who have now revealingly spoken up.

‘With the manager and Nicky here, you can see they leave no stone unturned,’ said striker John Marquis with a sentiment often repeated in recent off-the-record chats with his team-mates. ‘They put the hours in analysing training, drills and research.’

Danny Cowley. Picture: Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com)

So it’s become pretty apparent the Cowleys don’t mind getting stuck into the rubble. In fact, a cursory Google search underlines it’s a sentiment they’ve long been associated with.

But now it has become apparent just how dirty they’re prepared to get their hands.

The brothers referenced the next club who secured their services would be getting better versions of themselves, after their Huddersfield exit last July.

They may be media friendly with talk which can be packaged into soundbytes, but we can now clearly see this is not empty rhetoric.

Danny and Nicky Cowley (Photo by Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com)

‘We’ve been really disciplined,’ said Pompey’s new head coach of the duo's recent management absence.

‘We live next door to each other and we’ve been really disciplined. We’ve been up at 7am and worked through to 6pm.

‘We had 700 different training drills and wanted to link them up with our game model.

‘We’ve put them all on something called TacticalPad and can animate them all.

‘We like ball roll on the training pitch and the players never want to stop; they want to get flow and rhythm.

‘So we can have a training meet before, show them all the drills, what we’re doing, all the animations and take the iPads out to training as well to help and support the work we do.

It’s just going to be a good tool to help the players.’

Their homes in Lincoln where the pair effectively drew up the battle plan for their return to football has now been left behind, with a commitment to throw everything into the final five-and-a-half weeks of the regular season, and whatever lies beyond it.

The Cowleys will aim to deliver that charge 200 miles away from their families, and be chiefly based between the training ground and a shared flat in the city they moved into at the start of last week.

Twelve days on from their appointment, a complete knowledge of what’s at their disposal has been established.That understanding of individual players, strengths and weaknesses has been fuelled by a process which began the minute they knew there was a Pompey opening.

And, in turn, that detailed approach has been fired by a mindset established even before the Cowleys took their first tentative steps into management at Concord Rangers in 2008.

‘We’ve worked with an energy and intensity whether we were PE teachers, part-time managers and into full-time management.’ the Pompey head coach added.

‘We’ve done a lot of work in bringing our game model along and packaging it up, really good work which will help us with this challenge.

‘We’d already watched something near 15 Portsmouth games, prior even to taking a phone call.

‘So we have a good idea of the group, how to help them particularly in the short term.

‘When we commit to something it’s 100 per cent. We love football, we don’t see it as hard work - it’s our passion.’

With such detailed afforded their work, it’s been little surprise to see the Cowleys’ early briefings with the media used as a platform to establish their identities to a new audience.

Two pre-match addresses have gone beyond the hour mark with the local press so far, with the thoroughness of their approach stretching to the messages they want to portray to the public.

As with any formative relationship, a bedding-in period is taking place in unprecedented times as a reciprocal process of sussing out character traits and behaviours unfolds between media and management.

It was quickly clear, for example, the Cowleys have no interest in publicly setting targets for their players. A question of that nature was politely batted back by the head coach last week, before a follow-up was more succinctly shut down.

Along with repetitive and confidence-enhancing messages of support for individual players being issues, the observant will also have noted a phraseology being quietly rolled out by the brothers.

Talk of a commitment culture has peppered their responses along with the impactful riposte of confidence being established through competence, when addressing a playing morale already given a sizeable and much-needed shot in the arm.

But it’s perhaps an expression which has pierced through the Cowleys respectful veneer on more than one occasion, which has been most telling to how things are going to unfold from here on.

‘We will give this everything we’ve got,’ the Pompey boss has stated on more than one occasion now, before delivering his steely pay-off. ‘I can promise you this: I’m not going to die wondering.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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