Revealed: Why Pompey fans are waiting for new arrivals and insight provided on Blues' Scott Twine and Jack Whatmough decision-making
Head of Sport Mark McMahon caught up with Pompey writer Jordan Cross to discuss his latest interview with Blues boss Danny Cowley.
The Fratton Park head coach was back on media duty at a time when fans are clamouring for progress in his rebuild.
So to get further clarification on how the revamp is shaping up, Cross was quizzed on some of the key areas of interest.
He’s part one of that discussion, with supporters’ growing anxiety, the likelihood of an imminent arrival, Scott Twine and Cowley’s thoughts on recent departures up first...
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After taking part in your Zoom meeting with Danny Cowley how is his demeanour? Still has enthusiastic as ever or has the transfer window begun to take it’s toll?
Danny Cowley is Danny Cowley - bullish and enthusiastic. I think he's just keen to give Pompey fans an insight into how things are.
His first question actually to us today was: 'What's the mood amongst Pompey fans on social media?' Good opener, Danny!
And we explained there's a fair amount of angst at the minute and frustration amongst the supporters.
He admitted he expected that, admitting that he was here to give some context.
And that’s what he does with our key story today - talking about the situation and why he can understand the frustration.
He’s been very methodical in the process of looking for players.
It's interesting in that he doesn't feel particularly as if he’s missed out on anyone yet. no big-hitters.
But he’s very keen to explain to supporters that he’s very much going through the process and it's a very thorough process.
He’s detailed what he’s doing at the moment - identifying five players in each area, then narrowing that down to a couple.
You then go into the negotiation phase with a number of those players, putting you in a position of strength.
If you get later down the line, maybe end of June, July time, you get down to a couple of players, where it gets a bit harder – and this is the type of narrowing down process that Pompey are in at the moment.
There’s many holes to fill in the squad and Cowley admits he’s being very methodical in his approach. But do you get the sense he’s making any inroads?
He feels like he’s advanced with a couple of signings, potential signings now.
They're a fair way down the road, he felt with a couple.
I know we've previously reported that they would be looking for around seven new signings, when that was the end of the season.
But bearing in mind now that Jack Whatmough has departed, as well as Ryan Williams and Ben Close, that pushes the number up somewhat.
In terms of the numbers Pompey are looking at, it's a massive turnover – and he's not hiding from the fact that it's a huge process and quite a daunting one.
His first window is really massive and it’s rare for a new manager to come in with such a tough window.
He's not denying the fact that it’s perhaps his toughest challenge he’s faced in terms of recruitment.
It's a massive task ahead but he feels you can still hit the ground running (in terms of the season).
And he's detailed a lot of his football history where he's gone in at Braintree, Concord Rangers and Lincoln and managed to hit the ground running – despite having a massive turnover of players.
It's a different level of course to Pompey, but he feels he can do the same.
You mentioned Scott Twine, what did Cowley have to say about his move to MK Dons and Pompey’s interest in him?
It's fair to say it was a blow.
We reported it and it caused a bit of consternation on Twitter - but he was on Pompey's list of targets. Danny Cowley has admitted that.
Whether he was in the top one or two, I'm not so sure. I'm not sure that was necessarily the case.
Danny is not keen to talk about players Pompey are chasing - Stockley, Morrell and what not.
But he’s happy to talk about players who have gone elsewhere, so he spoke about the fact that Scott Twine is a good young player, liked him, but he occupies the left half space as Danny likes to call it - the inside left sort of channel.
He feels he has players who occupy that position already - a fit Michael Jacobs does, Ronan Curtis, whose future remains up in the air.
So he feels it would not have been a priority to pursue a player who occupies that area of the pitch so much.
And there’s also compensation - let's not hide from that.
Pompey would have had to pay compensation with a reduced budget at the moment.
And I think if it was £150,000 - £200,000, that's money that would be spent a lot more carefully than in recent years.
Throw all that into the melting pot and I think that reveals why Scott Twine was not the major priority that some Pompey fans thought he was.
Any regrets over some of the earlier decisions he made – ie Ben Close, Jack Whatmough or Ryan Williams?
I think there’s a tinge of disappointment with Jack Whatmough.
And the other lads, I think he felt they had a part to play.
Although, as Ben Close intimated, he was probably going to be on the periphery, otherwise they probably wouldn’t have been offering a reduction in wages.
But Jack, we know, was a priority. But at the same time it was a difficult situation.
He was offered, what Danny Cowley termed, 'an unbelievable offer' in terms of contract length and size of contract at Wigan.
And for Pompey’s part, it was a process were Danny was looking to push as far as he could in terms of wages.
But it was ultimately a discussion between the club and the player - not Danny, but the people who hold the purse strings and Jack.
For Pompey, the truth of the matter is Jack was coming back from an injury that was not unprecedented, but required a new kind of surgery – and there's not a lot of precedent of players coming back from that injury.
So Pompey are being data-driven under Danny, and there's no statistical basis of confidence for people with that injury, so that's where is started an ended.Danny was completely understanding of Jack's situation - he wanted to protect his family.
So that's the type of narrative from both sides and how Danny presented it to us today.