Former Portsmouth boss Paul Cook questions Blues’ on-the-pitch progress under Michael Eisner, makes Supporters’ Trust claim and offers honest opinion on January transfer window business

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Former boss Paul Cook has questioned Pompey’s on-the-pitch progress under Tornante’s ownership.

The Blues’ League Two title-winning manager believes Michael Eisner & Co have come in and ‘steadied the ship’ at Fratton Park after years of the club’s existence coming under severe threat.

But Cook is of the opinion the Pompey Supporters’ Trust – the body which saved Pompey from being liquidated in 2013 – could have easily built on that 2016-17 promotion success and met expectations going into League One when the decision was taken to relinquish control just weeks later.

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And as he acknowledged fans’ frustrations at what looks set to be a fifth successive year without getting out of the third tier, the out-of-work ex-Ipswich manager added the Blues’ situation will not have improved much after the January transfer window.

Pompey boss Paul Cook and chairman Iain McInnes celebrate promotion at Notts County in April 2017.Pompey boss Paul Cook and chairman Iain McInnes celebrate promotion at Notts County in April 2017.
Pompey boss Paul Cook and chairman Iain McInnes celebrate promotion at Notts County in April 2017.

Indeed, he believes manager Danny Cowley will not have been ‘overly happy’ with Pompey’s business last month.

The Blues signed five players in January – including the £200,000 purchase of Denver Hume from Sunderland – after successfully getting seven senior fringe players off their books.

Chief executive Andy Cullen revealed the Eisner’s once again increased the budget available to Cowley.

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However, the Blues’ inability to land a midfielder as the deadline approached appears to have overshadowed all that, generating criticism among the Fratton faithful.

Michael Eisner. Picture: Joe Pepler Michael Eisner. Picture: Joe Pepler
Michael Eisner. Picture: Joe Pepler

And it’s a frustration – irrespective of impressive developments off the pitch – which Cook has sensed from afar.

Speaking on talkSPORT 2, he said: ‘Listen, Portsmouth’s a really funny one and an interesting one because, from my time there, there’s (been) a lot debated about ownership and owners.

‘Michael Eisner came in with his company to take over from, at the time what I felt – and it was my genuine fell – that Portsmouth fans could have taken the club further. That was my honest opinion.

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‘Iain McInnes was a fantastic chairman. I was working with Mark Catlin and Tony Brown, the CEO and FD, and I actually felt we could carry on.

‘But the club, they had bad owners in the past, Michael’s come in and they’ve certainly steadied the ship.

‘But whether you are happy with that or not, that’s the big debate in football.

‘Portsmouth fans will not be happy today looking like they won’t go up again this year.

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‘And to be fair to Danny and Nicky, they’ve had numerous players leave and have probably had a little bit of a disappointing transfer window, if I’m trying to be diplomatic.

‘Without getting Danny and Nicky into trouble, I don’t think they’ll be overly happy with the last transfer window and I don’t think the supporters will be happy.

‘But one thing they’ve got is a solid football club.’

Cook emphasised that stability should not be underestimated, using the current situation at Derby and former club Wigan’s recent brush with administration as examples.

Meanwhile, amid the ongoing £11.5m redevelopment of Fratton Park and additional investment, Cullen last week added that Pompey remain debt free despite the difficulties caused by coronavirus,

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That stands the Blues in good stead for the future – something which Cook believes will eventually pay off.

Yet he reaffirmed the belief that on-the-pitch progress is not happing quick enough for some.

‘You look at Derby and the likes of Wigan, there’s a lot to be said for that,’ said Cook, who quit the Blues in the aftermath of his League Two title success.

‘Somewhere along the line Portsmouth fans would love to see more investment on the pitch – 100 per cent they want to see that.

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‘They don’t want to be in League One – the same as Ipswich fans and Sunderland fans and Sheffield Wednesday fans but everyone can’t go up.

‘And if your club is built solidly and correctly, in time you’ll get where you want to be.

‘Obviously, from Portsmouth’s point of view, for the supporters, probably not as quick as they want.’