Former Portsmouth striker admits difference in Blues under Danny Cowley was noticeable 'straight away'

Guy Whittingham said the difference in Pompey’s game was noticeable ‘straight away’ as Danny Cowley got his Fratton Park reign off to a winning start.

Saturday, 20th March 2021, 7:00 pm

Just one day after being officially confirmed as the Blues’ new head coach on a deal until the end of the season, the PO4 side recorded a first league win in six games and their first in almost a month in all competitions.

The victory over Ipswich also ended a near two-year wait for a come-from-behind win, with the last time that happened coming against Coventry on Easter Monday in 2019.

A continuation of that dreadful record was feared when James Norwood handed Paul Cook’s side a 32nd-minute lead.

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However, his opener was cancelled out less than 10 minutes later by Tom Naylor, before Marcus Harness sealed the win on 72 minutes with his first league goal since October.

It handed Cowley the perfect start to his Pompey career – and helped lift the mood around Fratton Park.

Hopes of promotion were deteriorating quickly under Kenny Jackett in recent months – hence his departure last weekend.

But, according to former Blues striker and boss Whittingham, that negativity was nowhere to be seen against Ipswich.

Ronan Curtis, left, congratulates team-mate Marcus Harness following his match-winner against Ipswich. Picture: Joe Pepler

He saw a significant difference in Pompey and their players as they kick-started their promotion dreams against a rival with similar ambitions.

Speaking on BBC Solent, Whittingham said: ‘There was just a positive vibe out there – both in possession and out of possession.

‘That’s the biggest thing we’ve seen and that willingness to go for it, to put the opposition under pressure, to run around, to do everything you can to win the game I suppose at the end.

‘Yeah, a big difference (was evident), but it’s that closing down, that playing the ball forward early, reactions, there was a difference straight away.

‘I think we noticed it in the first five minutes when the ball was cleared up the pitch, how all the players shifted up the pitch quickly.

‘I think getting back into the game, that equaliser pretty quickly from a set-play – that just filled the team with confidence.

‘Attacks in the final third looked promising – people committing themselves, going for it, not being cautious.’

Whittingham added the nature of the performance, plus the fact that it came just one day after Cowley and his brother Nicky were appointed, will encourage everyone associated with the club.

He added: ‘A new boss coming in is going to bring new encouragement into the side that’s here and that certainly was evident, I think, what they said about wanting to play quick attacking football.

‘It showed they wanted to get the ball forward earlier, they wanted players to switch on and be aware of where people were on the pitch before they got the ball.

‘But the first reaction we really saw was when they got rid of the ball from defence and they all moved up the pitch in sequence, all together, as one, and all with pace to put pressure on the opposition.

‘So it looks like, in their one day they’ve come in, they certainly made a difference to this squad and obviously with the result everybody will be encouraged by it.’