Former Lincoln striker Matt Rhead backs Danny Cowley to succeed at Pompey and defends ex-boss' perceived playing style

Towering striker Matt Rhead stressed those claiming new Pompey head coach Danny Cowley adopts a direct style of play could not be more wrong.

Saturday, 20th March 2021, 6:00 am
Former Lincoln striker Matt Rhead. Picture: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

And the former Lincoln striker says his old boss and his brother Nicky will be successes wherever they go because of the endless hard work they put in.

Cowley has been named Pompey head coach until the end of the season and met the squad for the first time at Fratton Park yesterday.

Yet, when his name first emerged as someone the club had contacted over the vacant position, some fans expressed fears his style was too similar to that of former boss Kenny Jackett.

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But 6ft 4in forward Rhead, 36, who won two promotions and reached the FA Cup quarter-final in his time working under Cowley at Lincoln, insists those suggestions are wide of the mark.

The former Imps striker admitted his old boss adopted a more ‘direct' style which worked to his advantage on their way to winning the National League title in the 2016-2017 season.

But Rhead, now at National League side Boreham Wood, revealed 'evolving' Cowley's formula then changed after reaching the Football League.

He said: ‘Danny just plays to his strengths.

‘The first season we were a bit more direct and it worked really well.

‘I think he said at Braintree they didn’t let many goals in so they were a bit more defensive.

‘We scored loads of goals (at Lincoln) and we nearly got 100 points in the season the first season they were there.

‘We had wingers and a 4-4-2 and it was different the season after because they’re always evolving.

‘They know the levels, even the level above where we were, and their knowledge of players is frightening. They know every player inside out.

‘We were more of a possession-based team (after going up to League Two at Lincoln).

‘The formation turned to a 3-5-2 at times as well, it was whatever they needed to do.

‘At first I used to play the high striker, number nine, and we played a couple of games in the first season were I played in the number 10.

‘Danny put me in the number 10, he altered it and saw there was a slight issue there, the rest is history and we ended up winning in the FA Cup and winning the league.’

Rhead backed his old boss to get Pompey's faltering promotion push firing again.

And he has no doubt Cowley will enjoy success as he prepares to take charge of the Blues’ final 12 League One matches – starting against Ipswich today.

Rhead added: ‘He’s an absolute dream (to work under), both him and Nicky.

‘They obviously did well at Huddersfield and it was unbelievable what they did at Lincoln.

‘The attention to detail is something like I’ve never seen before.

‘They love football and everyday they come in with a smile on their faces and they want to do well.

‘But the success they’ve had so far, even at Huddersfield when they kept them up, they’ll only ever be a success because of the hard work they put in.’