The story of how Portsmouth landed former Huddersfield and Lincoln boss

So Pompey have their man.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 6:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th March 2021, 9:12 am

The German flags adorning Twitter profiles have been pulled down over the past 24 hours and up have gone the cow emojis.

And the no-thank-you sentiments and dismissive long-ball jibes have dissipated, as a little scratching beneath the surface reveals a lot for the Fratton faithful to like about the figure aiming to become their club’s 37th permanent manager.

The importance of a speedy resolution in the hunt for Kenny Jackett’s successor was clearly evidenced in what unfolded at Peterborough on Tuesday.

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No more drift could be afforded this unravelling campaign, and Mark Catlin has moved swiftly to bring in the figure he believes can turn around the club’s imploding season.

Danny Cowley we wish you well.

As much as the league table eventually led to his predecessors’ demise, it’s perhaps the shape of League One right now which explains how Pompey were able to tempt the Londoner.

Incoming Pompey boss Danny Cowley. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Catlin has rigidly stuck to the notion of an interim deal for the appointment which is ultimately his choice, a move which will be reviewed in the summer.

Snaring a respectable figure on that kind of agreement is a lot tougher than many passing Pompey observers would anticipate.

In the many conversations which have taken place at PO4 with interested parties in recent days, terms until the summer of 2022 would often have been the minimum requirement.

It’s the kind of stance Cowley himself, quite rightly, would have laid down in the immediacy of the Blues making contact to test the water.

After taking the brave choice to leave the security of the classroom, the former PE teacher has built a hard-earned reputation as a diligent bright, young thing - and crucially a successful one.

With his last role coming in the Championship, he could be forgiven for thinking he’d reached a level where he warranted greater security.

On reflection, however, Cowley has realised he effectively has nothing to lose and everything to gain at Pompey.

The Peterborough loss means he will arrive with his club outside of the play-off places and in freefall with 12 games remaining.

Failure to galvanise a squad bereft of confidence after topping the League One table at Christmas, and the football world collectively shrugs its shoulders. There is no reputation damage there.

On the other hand, an injection of impetus into Pompey’s season could still hopefully mean a play-off finish.

From there, we enter the end-of-season lottery which has only dealt us disappointment in the past. If Cowley was to find the winning numbers at last, we all know the rewards which await him.

It’s the kind of manoeuvre Daniel Stendel, Neil Harris and the other serious names being weighed up weren’t prepared to consider.

Harris emerged as a name which had sizeable favour among the Fratton hierarchy, but it would have taken longer terms to see him step down to League One with Pompey one of a small band of clubs he would’ve considered the move for.

The negative reaction to the 43-year-old’s name being revealed by The News wouldn’t have been lost on the key decision makers, however. Nor, too, would the club’s due diligence on Stendel, which was enough to raise some red flags.

The kind of volatile conduct which enamoured many Pompey fans was also a concern, with the German not necessarily the right fit for the Eisners.

The package which Cowley offers ticks all the right boxes for Catlin, however, and means it wasn’t long before he was the preferred choice.

A long-ball stigma has attached itself to the man who should be in the home dugout for the visit of Paul Cook’s Ipswich on Saturday, and it’s that reputation which produced some initial reticence to his name being in the frame.

The YouTube videos and online reading of recent days has seen those thoughts thaw, however, as the fan due diligence unearths evidence of a thoughtful, hard working and driven coaching obsessive.

And Cowley’s philosophy for dealing with a disconnect between fans and club in his three years at Lincoln, is one which will sing to any Pompey fan at present.

‘We tried to connect the club back with the people and just tried to learn quickly what are the people,’ Cowley said in an interview with The Coaches’ Voice when Imps boss.

‘The people are really down-to-earth hard-working people. So let’s try to find players who fit that, that the supporters could then align themselves with, understand, respect and be proud of. And once you get that connection it can then be really, really powerful.’

It’s exactly the kind of approach which has made Pompey such an irresistible force for the most successful of Cowley’s predecessors.

A repeat performance now and the rich spoils of Championship lift-off will supersede anything which has gone before, for the man ready to accept the footballing hopes of this island city.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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