Steve Cotterill on how he got the best out of 'unloved' Portsmouth, Leicester and Derby man David Nugent

Steve Cotterill has revealed how a ‘bit of love’ finally brought the best out of David Nugent at Pompey.

Monday, 22nd June 2020, 12:00 pm
David Nugent discovered his best Pompey form in the Championship - with Steve Cotterill in charge. Picture: Steve Reid

The former £6m striker endured a forgettable opening three seasons at Fratton Park as Harry Redknapp and then Paul Hart failed to be convinced by his talents.

Hart even jettisoned the one-time England man to Burnley on loan for the 2009-10 campaign, which saw the Blues relegated in his absence.

However, the arrival of Cotterill as boss of then-Championship Pompey in June 2010 marked an upturn in fortune for the likeable Nugent.

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And, after finishing as 14-goal top scorer, he left in July 2011 on a free transfer for Leicester, representing a transformed figure.

Cotterill told The News: ‘When I first got there, there were some murmurings of David Nugent leaving in pre-season. I didn’t want him to go. I wanted to get working with him and we did some extra work on the training ground.

‘I definitely think he needed a bit of love, but they all do. Sometimes it has to be a bit of tough love, especially if they are coming through.

‘With Nuge, though, he had been through the young player process and needed a bit of love to bring it out of him – and it worked.

‘He always wore this really nice aftershave and every time he used to walk by me in the corridor I would ask what it was. It was an expensive one from Harrods.

‘I’ll never forget that when he went on that goalscoring run and started to feel confident about himself, he came into my office one day and gave me a bottle of this aftershave.

‘It was a lovely touch. I thought that was really nice of him.

‘I’ve seen him quite a bit over the years since, I loved managing Nuge and he got a great move to Leicester at the end of that season.’

Now aged 35, Nugent is presently with Preston, with one goal in 23 appearances this term.

After leaving Fratton Park, he netted 59 times in 180 appearances for Leicester, including a season at Premier League level.

He subsequently turned out for Middlesbrough, Derby and, of course, Preston.

Cotterill added: ‘Considering he was full of running and had pace, Nuge used to get a lot of one-on-ones.

‘I studied him for quite a while, looking back over his older videos. We got our analyst, Garvan Stewart, to clip all his one-on-ones and you could see an issue.

‘When Nuge wasn't confident and clean through, he would hit the goalkeeper with his shot.

‘I’d explain to him how he you need to take the ball off the line it’s on before shooting, so it moves the keeper. Basically, take an extra touch.

‘About nine times out of 10, when the goalkeeper is coming out in a one-v-one, you know roughly where he is. Nuge, though, would hit it knee-high or waist-high, which a lot of keepers saved with their knees.

‘He needed to take it off that last line when the keeper was already set. You move him before slotting it in.

‘I remember the first time he went through after we had been discussing it. I was thinking “Please, let me be right with this”. He scored – and never looked back after that.

‘You can only advise them and Nuge had to take it onto the field and execute it himself. That was down entirely to him.

‘What a great lad, who has gone on to have a great career.’

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