Portsmouth's search for a new manager: what we know so far and how long process could take

Forty-eight hours have now passed since Kenny Jackett headed through the Fratton Park exit.

By Mark McMahon
Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 12:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 1:58 pm

And there’s been little time to catch a collective breath as Pompey’s search for his successor gathers momentum.

Indeed, there’s already been plenty of names linked to the current vacant manager’s position, with The News ahead of the pack in bringing you the very latest developments.

No doubt, there could be more twists and turns along the way, as the Blues attempt to home in on a new boss in time to salvage their fading promotion hopes. Much of this particular race is still to be run.

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But where do Pompey currently stand in their attempts to replace Jackett? What is the state of play here and now? And can we expect an appointment soon?

Well, here’s what we know so far…

Who are the candidates?

Four names have already come to the fore since the decision to part company with Jackett was made on Sunday morning.

From left: Neil Harris, Daniel Stendel, Danny Cowley, Matt Taylor

The first to emerge was former Millwall and Cardiff boss Neil Harris, followed quickly by ex-Barnsley and Hearts manager Daniel Stendel.

Former Fratton favourite Matt Taylor has also been mentioned, while Danny Cowley, the one-time Lincoln and Huddersfield chief, is also believed to be in the reckoning.

They are four names that The News understands are currently being considered. However, that does not mean that others aren’t in the frame, also.

Have they all been sounded out by Pompey?

The News understands there is strong support for former Millwall and Cardiff manager Neil Harris within the corridors of power at Fratton Park.

The 43-year-old represents the kind of passionate, younger appointment who ticks the boxes for what the Blues are looking for.

It’s unclear, however, whether that initial interest was followed up to became more substantive or whether Harris would accept a short-term deal.

Stendel has been in discussions with the Blues’ hierarchy.

Yet, a major stumbling block with him is the length of the contract on offer.

The possibility of taking charge on a short-team deal until the season’s end is not viewed favourably by the German and remains a sticking point.

Regardless, negotiations are ongoing, and it is understood Stendel remains keen on joining Pompey.

Taylor has emerged as a surprise candidate and The News understands discussions with the 39-year-old have taken place.

He is currently in his second season as Spurs under-18 coach and has gained his Uefa pro licence.

It remains to be seen, though, if Pompey would be prepared to take a chance on an untried manager as they weigh up their best course of action.

Like Stendel, a conversation was held over them taking charge of the Blues for the remainder of the season, and he’s believed to be excited at the prospect of becoming the new Blues boss.

Yet, like the the German, the length of the contract is something of a concern for the 42-year-old, who has been out of work since July.

Has anyone else been contacted?

Others have definitely been sounded out, although remain unknown at this moment.

This is a huge moment for the likes of chief executive Mark Catlin and one he clearly needs to get right.

The net has been cast far in order to ascertain individuals’ interest in the role and rightly so.

Due diligence is key to this process and all options need to be explored before a decision is made.

Pompey’s initial search will also have expanded following news of Jackett’s exit.

The club have been inundated with CVs and notifications of interest and they are prepared to give each the respect they deserve as they look to get the best person for the job.

Has that subsequent interest complicated matters?

It will have, especially with many of those making contact with the club saying they would be interested in taking over at the end of the season when they would be available.

The likes of Stendel and Cowley would certainly be keen if their potential roles came with a long-term contract rather than an initial appointment until the season’s end.

But what happens if a play-off place isn’t secured come May? Would they still have the backing to carry on? And what if a more appealing option emerged in the summer? All of a sudden a third manager could be at the helm within a matter of months, which goes against the Eisner’s remit of stability.It definitely is a quandary that needs solving.

What’s the timeframe for a decision to be made?A statement from the club to announce Jackett’s departure read that the process would take ‘as short as possible’.

That’s understandable given the hope of the new man rescuing the season for the Blues and delivering a place in the play-offs.

There’s only 13 games left to achieve that – but one of those comes tonight at Peterborough, where Jackett’s former No2, Joe Gallen, will take charge of the first team.

All of a sudden there’s only 12 games remaining, one of which is against Paul Cook’s Ipswich on Saturday – the team that knocked the Blues out of the play-off positions last weekend.

Time is of the essence, but Catlin told The News on Monday that no timeframe can be put on the process.

He said: ‘It was a busy day yesterday (Sunday) and will be a busy day today (Monday).

I assume it will be like that all week until we can identify the right person that gives us the best chance of promotion this season.

‘I am not putting a timeframe on it, I don’t think you can. We’re looking at different scenarios.’

Does that mean this could go one for longer than expected?

It looks that way, although it will be a matter of days rather than weeks before an appointment is made.

Indeed, Catlin is due to discuss the next step with chairman Michael Eisner and the board this afternoon.

It’s interesting that Gallen has only been placed in charge of tonight’s game against Peterborough.

There’s been no mention of the Ipswich match, which takes place on Saturday.

That could be interpreted as the Blues possibly having their man in the place for the visit of the Tractor Boys.

Have the Eisner’s said anything?

Very little to be honest – apart from a tweet posted on Twitter by club chairman Michael Eisner thanking Kenny Jackett for his Pompey service over the past four years.

He added: ‘We are totally focussed on an exciting end to this season resulting in promotion!’, which adds to the pressure of getting this appointment – whether it’s a short-term or long-term decision – right.