Why Danny Cowley wasn't appointed sooner, why now for a sporting director and the Portsmouth players who can thrive under new management team - your questions answered

You’ve had plenty to ask in the wake of the Cowleys’ Pompey appointment and their maiden victory over Ipswich on Saturday. Blues writer Jordan Cross has the answers to your burning questions.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 2:13 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd March 2021, 2:18 pm

Just seen your story about a Pompey technical director. Why are they only thinking about doing this now?

David Owen, Lancing

Interesting development isn’t it, David, as revealed at portsmouth.co.uk today. I guess, in answer to your question, it’s all about timing.

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As we see across the game now, the role of a sporting director/technical director/director of football is becoming increasingly prevalent.

It’s not a position you see so much in the lower echelons of the game, however, when the manager mostly tends to have overarching power on football matters.

That’s the way it’s been at Pompey pretty much through necessity in the community era and, indeed, coming into the Eisners' stewardship.

With a change of manager, however, the time does feel right to look at structures, and I get the feeling there may be a fair bit of change over the next year or so.

Danny and Nicky Cowley

Pompey are a fair way down the road to appointing a new academy manager, who will be tasked with big decisions at that level moving forward.

One of Danny Cowley’s first areas he’s focussed on is the notion of Pompey developing a blueprint for a clearer identity for the club.

It’s something we’ll explore in greater detail with a story later this afternoon, and it’s a topic I’ve now heard a number of people within the game mention with regard to Pompey.

What is Pompey's identity? What is the style of play? What is the DNA of the club?

Mark Catlin would argue a winning approach is the right identity, however that’s achieved, while acknowledging a clear football philosophy for the club as a whole has its merits.

Obviously recruitment of both staff and players is central to developing these ideologies.

All of the above are now predominantly the domain of the sporting director at progressive clubs.

Have to admit, I've been so impressed with Danny Cowley from what I've seen from him so far. He's a breath of fresh air. But why didn't Pompey make the managerial change sooner?

Steve Hobbs, London

Hi Steve, I’ve seen this question asked a few times over the past week or so.

For Pompey, the focus of this season has always been about promotion and the minimum requirement of finishing in the play-off places.

For a team who were top at Christmas under Kenny Jackett that’s always looked achievable until recent weeks.

The disappointment of the EFL Trophy defeated contributed to the dark mood around the squad, but it also arrived the same weekend Pompey fell out of the play-off places for the first time this year.

There was no mutiny among the players towards Jackett, but it was evident confidence had deteriorated badly. The season was falling away and the board felt action was required.

That broadly explains why Jackett went when he did, and how often have we seen a managerial change breath life into the club?

A fresh set of ideas and impetus has been greeted with the Cowleys' arrival, and it’s clear speaking to the players they feel energised after things had gone a little stale.

Who do you think will be the key players under Cowley, the players who will take on board his philosophy and thrive? And who do you think will benefit the most from his presence?

David Ramsdale, West Sussex.

Picking up from the previous question, they know their first challenge is to restore confidence.

I love the line from Danny after Saturday’s game: ‘when I feel competent, I feel confident’. That is really revealing.

They are intimating that if they are thorough and detailed in their preparations, the players will be aware of their duties.

That means, for them, meetings before training every day to show the players what’s required. Even down to showing them animation of the drills they’re about to do. Believe me, this is a thorough process to rebuilding morale.

It’s a clean slate for the players so this is obviously good news for the likes of Ben Close and Jordy Hiwula. I really hope Michael Jacobs can stay fit, too, because I can see a big role for him if he does. Marcus Harness and Ryan Williams seem natural fits for the Cowleys’ approach as well.

There’s also been a very deliberate attempt from Danny to talk up the impact he believes John Marquis can have. Without prompting, he mentioned ‘what a player’ Marquis was and how he was missed on Saturday on a number of occasions.

With few striking options, the new team clearly are aware how important it is to get the striker firing again confidently. It could actually make all the difference to how the season pans out.

Simple question: Will Pompey make the play-offs this season?

Charlie Langford.

Simple answer, Charlie, yes.

Okay, I should really offer a little explanation on that front.

If ever a weekend showed up the inconsistencies of this season’s promotion chase it was the last one.

Of the top nine clubs - yes NINE - Pompey were the only team to win on Saturday.

The thought of what just a little more consistency up to this point would have meant for the season given the rivals’ inconsistency is infuriating, to say the least.

But that, the boost the Cowleys’ arrival has given the players and, crucially, Pompey’s run-in gives confidence the top six is on.

Every team they face from here on in is currently in the bottom 13 places. Yes, you’d like to stay away from the teams fighting for their lives at the climax of the campaign, but those games still offer a huge opportunity.

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