Why Portsmouth head coach Danny Cowley has much to thank predecessor Kenny Jackett for
Danny Cowley has thanked the players he’s inherited for making the transition to his playing style and coaching methods appear effortless.
Obvious gains have already been made since the new head coach was named as Kenny Jackett’s successor on March 19.
Pompey have won three league games on the bounce for the first time in three-and-a-half months.
Meanwhile, they have also returned to the top six, with their play-off ambitions back in their own hands.
It’s far removed from the form which eventually led to Jackett’s Fratton Park departure last month.
And while Cowley admits that it remains a work in progress, with he and his brother Nicky only starting to get their playing philosophy across, the new boss said the players must also take plenty of the credit.
The Blues head coach was asked about the difficulties of such a transition during his #AskCowley question and answer segment on the club’s website.
He admitted looking forward rather than backwards was an essential part of the process, along with the ability of making training relevant to the here and now.
But he also said the players, both in terms of quality and character, at his disposal were also key – which was subtle recognition of the recruitment carried out in the years previous under Jackett.
Cowley said: ‘What we’re really focused on doing is looking forward and that’s what we want the group to do.
‘Our only ambition is to help the group and improve all of the players.
‘I always think that if you can improve every player, even by one percent, then you are going to get a massive collective gain.
‘We believe in the group, we think we've got some really good players, we really like their work ethic, we really like their humility.
‘They’re unbelievably coachable, so that has really helped us be able to start to get across the messages and principles of how we want to play.
‘And we've definitely made good progress.
‘We had a 35-minute spell in the Shrewsbury game in the first half where we looked a good team, we had some good rhythm and control.
‘Our ambition is always the perfect performance and you look for the 90-minute performance and that's definitely what we're working towards.
‘But what is great is that we actually had some tactical problems in the second half against Shrewsbury - we then were able to come back onto the grass on Monday and correct those.
‘And because we're getting all these tactical challenges, and all these different questions being asked, that's allowing us to be able to then make the training really relevant, make the training bespoke to the group and get it to a position where we can continually layer and add to and work towards our game model.’
Cowley, whose initial Pompey contract is until the end of the season, said the players’ willingness to accept a new philosophy was a massive step in the right direction for what he wants to achieve.
However, he was reluctant to put a ceiling on what was possible – instead insisting that anything was achievable if all parts of the equation worked in unison.
‘We want to set the players up for success. We know how we want the game to be played, we know what we love to see. We think we've got a good idea of what the Portsmouth fans want,’ added Cowley.
‘We love fast attacking football, we want to be able to play aggressively against the ball, we want to play with high energy and intensity to win the ball back early - that is always our ambition, and then from there we want to get the control, rhythm and dominance.
‘I got asked a question "where can Portsmouth go and what can they achieve?”
‘Well, I don’t want to put any ceiling on what the club can achieve. I believe in this world that anything is possible. I believe only we control our destiny and no-one else in my opinion gets that privilege.
‘So let’s stay focused, let’s work really hard. Let’s enjoy what we're doing and I believe that together then anything is possible for us.’