The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE -

EV­ERY Mon­day, I train with Portsmouth. Com­pared to the last time I was there, the at­mos­phere couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent. I first joined the club in Au­gust 2010, their first sea­son in the Cham­pi­onship and at the height of fi­nan­cial trou­ble.

It was ob­vi­ous they were in a bad way. Top play­ers like Kevin PrinceBoateng were be­ing sold for knock-down prices. Fa­cil­i­ties were be­ing cut, staff laid off. On the play­ing side, it was a case of one in, one out.

That took its toll on ev­ery­one and, the fol­low­ing sea­son, they were rel­e­gated to League One, just two years af­ter play­ing in an FA Cup fi­nal. The fol­low­ing year, they were rel­e­gated again and nearly went out of busi­ness.

I was gut­ted, and that’s why go­ing there now makes me happy. Fifth in League Two, still in the FA Cup, play­ing great foot­ball.

I get the same feel­ing I had when Bournemouth were com­ing through the leagues. When Ed­die Howe came in, the whole dy­namic of the club changed: the stan­dards he set in train­ing, the im­pact he had on staff.

Don’t get me wrong, a bit of ex­tra money helped. But they wouldn’t have done any­thing with­out Ed­die’s pro­fes­sion­al­ism. Train­ing un­der him was so in­tense that, come to the game, ev­ery­thing just seemed easy.

We’d work on de­vel­op­ing part­ner­ships, on pass­ing teams off the park. Even if you weren’t in the start­ing XI, you knew your job down to the finest de­tail. And, ob­vi­ously, the re­cruit­ment was spot on.

It felt like a club on the up, just as Pom­pey do now. And, for that, you just have to look at Paul Cook, the man­ager who joined from Ch­ester­field.

He’s in­stilled hard work, dis­ci­pline and pro­fes­sion­al­ism. For me, he’s also as­sem­bled the best squad in that divi­sion.

I’ve got no doubt that, with a bit of luck and no in­juries, they’ll go up.

With their fan­tas­tic sup­port I see no rea­son why they can’t em­u­late Bournemouth.

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