Opinion: The Cowleys have reignited passion for Portsmouth and deserve the chance to create their own vision

PompeyNewsNow contributor and @PO4cast co-host Freddie Webb shares his thoughts on The News’ top story on Friday that Pompey are set to stick with head coach Danny Cowley beyond this season.

By Mark McMahon
Saturday, 24th April 2021, 7:00 am


Danny and Nicky Cowley have recaptured the passion I’d lost for Pompey and deserve a chance to create their own vision.

Before the brothers came to Fratton Park the club seemed rudderless and in need of a new direction.

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The style of football was poor and not suited to our best players.

Individual errors were rampant, and the board seemed oblivious to the looming disaster that was Pompey’s season.

Conceding four goals before half-time against relegation-threatened Northampton was infuriating.

The Wembley display in the Papa John’s Trophy was embarrassing.

Danny Cowley in the company of his brother Nicky at Swindon on Tuesday night

Diatribes about ‘siege mentality’, and dismissing the wave of criticism against the management as a ‘social media minority’ - on numerous occasions - was disheartening.

It was the final straw for me.

In short, I, like so many Portsmouth fans up and down the country, was frustrated, but more worryingly, apathetic.

I stopped caring about Pompey’s results, as much as it pains me to admit it.

Only when I thought my club would cease to exist did this happen before.

I didn’t believe the team in its current state could succeed in the long term.

When the Cowley’s were initially linked with the club, I was unfairly dismissive of their ability.

On the face of it, their Lincoln City side played very direct football, and their Huddersfield outfit struggled too much offensively.

But after doing my due diligence, watching multiple videos and reading about their ambitions, footballing philosophy, and desire to connect football clubs to the communities that drive them, I changed my mind.

I was fully convinced Danny’s appointment was the right one after me and my co-hosts interviewed him on the PO4cast.

Call me biased if you want; it wasn’t just because he agreed to appear on the show.

He persuaded everyone, hosts and listeners alike, that he and his brother Nicky were the right men to change the foundations of this club for the better.

The key for me was the emphasis he put on reconnecting the fans and the club.

It’s been hard to be kept away from Fratton Park for so long, but it’s not just that.

Most fans I talked to have felt disconnected from the club, as their opinions weren’t being listened to.

Now, we have a manager speaking openly about reshaping the club into something the supporters can be proud of.

He reignited the Lincoln City fan base and took them from the depths of the National League to solidifying themselves in League One.

The Imps went from having 1,300 season ticket holders to 7,500 in a season, and it wasn’t solely down to results on the pitch.

They reconnected the team with their supporters, and the city itself; very few managers could achieve that.

Fans have only got a taste of the positive energy they bring, and it has already revitalised the players on the pitch at times.

Those first four victories at the start of his reign showed what Pompey’s first team could have been this season, which we only saw occasionally.

Fast-attacking football.

Pressing from the front as a unit rather than individually.

Proactive runs into space and intricate passages of play.

All of those aspects were on show in March and early April.

Yes, the results have dried up, and given recent performances, Pompey could miss the play-offs altogether.

Injuries have taken their toll, and the gruelling fixture list looks to have caught up with the players.

The movement off the ball has been slower, and the composure in both boxes is sorely lacking.

Many people see a play-off campaign as the barometer of success, but the long-term direction of the side is more important to me.

That debacle at Sixfields ended my hopes of Pompey promotion.

Since then, I made peace with the idea of another season in League One.

All I wanted to see was a new manager set up a long-term vision which I could back.

The Cowley’s have already shown in such a short space of time the tactical philosophy they can implement.

With a summer to reshape the squad, I don’t see why Pompey can’t be in the promotion conversation again.

The Cowley’s have also proven to be pragmatic enough not to rip everything apart to force through their ideals.

Joe Gallen was kept on due to his connection with the players, and none of the squad have been completely cast aside already.

Over the past four seasons, we have seen too many fractious relationships between players and management.

I believe Danny Cowley has the man-management skills to keep a squad together.

And successful clubs aren’t just built on the pitch or in the dressing room.

Modern and fresh ideas are being implemented.

Utilising video analysis to study training sessions.

Consulting data to find hidden gems in the transfer market, all the more pertinent in a post-Covid environment.

All of these techniques are now available to Pompey within a month of the brothers arriving.

Imagine what they can do with enough time and support.

Change was needed at the club, and it’s something the supporters shouldn’t be afraid of.

The previous regime wasn’t working, and there have been too many play-off heartbreaks to fix it.

I don’t see any other individuals currently on the job market that could lead the Blues into the future.

Long-term planning is what the club needs to succeed, on and off the pitch, and the club needs the right head coach with the correct mentality to establish ever-lasting change.

Danny Cowley, with his brother Nicky by his side, can use their own vision, alongside what is available at the club, to bring success back to Fratton Park.

Both of them will work their fingers to the bone, because they understand how much Pompey means to the city itself.

When we spoke to Danny on the podcast, he stressed his ambition was to create a team and a club that everybody in Portsmouth could be proud to be associated with.

I believe him that can happen, and I think most of the Fratton faithful do as well.