The lowdown on incoming Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley and what ex-Lincoln and Huddersfield chief will bring

Danny Cowley is set to be appointed new Pompey boss.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 3:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 3:47 pm

The 43-year-old, along with brother Nicky, will take charge of the final 12 games of the season as the Blues bid to salvage a League One play-off spot.

The brothers have enjoyed a hurtling rise through the football pyramid. Starting out at non-league Concord, they went to Braintree before forging their reputation at Lincoln.

During a three-and-a-half year spell, the Cowleys took the Imps from a mid-table National League side to the third tier.

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In that time was two league titles, the EFL Trophy and a famous run to the FA Cup quarter-finals before being knocked out by Premier League heavyweights Arsenal.

The Cowleys left Lincoln for Huddersfield in September 2019.

With the Terriers in the Championship relegation zone, the duo steered the Yorkshire outfit clear of the drop before surprisingly being sacked with a game of the season remaining.

We’ve caught up with Mark Whiley from the Lincolnshire Echo to give us the lowdown on the Cowleys and what the Fratton faithful can expect...

Danny Cowley, left, and Nicky Cowley. Picture: Naomi Baker/Getty Images

First of all, would it be fair to say the Cowleys still have cult-hero status in Lincoln?

They have with most of the fans. There is a bit of a minority who weren't happy they left for Huddersfield after turning them down a couple of times before taking the job.

But, by in large, most fans are eternally grateful. They inherited a side that hadn't finished above halfway in the National League for four years and departed with the club in League One.

Whatever any future manager does, it's hard to see them matching what the Cowleys did in terms of achievements and trophies.

They transformed the club on the pitch.

What was the general feeling among fans when the Cowleys were appointed?

There was quite a lot of excitement because the club had previously been appointing managers out of work but they actually went out and got the Cowleys from Braintree.

Chairman Clive Nates did his homework so there was optimism and fans were onside straight away.

Danny is a get communicator. I remember at the first fans' forum when the pair were unveiled, the fans loved what they were hearing. I imagine at Pompey he'll soon win the fans over.

Just how impressive was that first season ending as National League champions?

It was unbelievable and not really expected. It was such a dramatic season as well.

The wider world of football will remember the FA Cup run but in the league, there were so many late goals and dramatic wins.

Because of the cup run, there was a ridiculous number of games to cram in at the end of the season but they kept churning out 1-0 victories.

Then the cup run helped transform the club. It meant they could afford a new training ground and he put a lot of onus in the cups.

Did anyone expect the momentum in the Football League to continue by finishing in the League Two play-offs then being crowned champions again?

People always expected them to do well in League Two. They did great to get into the play-offs then fell that little bit short.

They recognised what they needed to do to be a promotion-winning side.

In the first two campaign, they played quite direct and that will only get you so far. After that, they played a lot better football than given credit for in the League Two title-winning season.

Is it unfair they're tagged as long-ball merchants?

Really unfair. They won't ask players to do something they can't do but instead utilise their strengths and use what they've got.

The Cowleys won't just pass the ball around for the sake of it. It will be front foot, aggressive football but entertaining once they get the side they want.

Matt Rhead, who is a big target man, didn't really play much in the League Two title-winning season. He was more of an impact player so they were not quite as direct as the previous two years.

After going up to League One, they made a really good start and then lost seven times in nine games before leaving for Huddersfield.

But there was a feeling that the team was coming to the end of its course and would have to be rebuilt with younger players.

Certainly, they left the club in a good position.

Were you surprised they left for Huddersfield after turning them down several times previously?

I think, at first, Huddersfield wanted the Cowleys as head coaches but Danny wanted to be manager as he's very hands-on with all aspects.

I don't blame them at all for going to the Championship and taking that opportunity.

In hindsight, maybe Huddersfield wasn't the best choice as they were a club on the way down.

However, they did a good job to keep them up before his departure.

How do the mechanics work between Danny and Nicky?

It’s as close to joint-managers as you can get without them having the titles.

Danny will have the ultimate say but Nicky will challenge Danny. If there is a deadlock, I’m sure Danny has the final say.

I’d have liked to have heard from Nicky a bit more in press conferences and stuff.

Normally, I don’t like assistant managers being wielded out, but with Nicky almost being joint-manager then he’d have been a good guy to hear from more often than not.

What will they be like off the pitch?

Danny will really immerse himself in the club.

Away from results, he will win over the Pompey fans by getting out in the community when he and Nicky can.

Being a former PE teacher, he’s lived a life outside of football.

They know how to speak to people, he’s a real people person and will get the fans onside.

They will work relentlessly and don’t seem to switch off. Whether they achieve success or not, they will work hard at everything.

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