POMPEY CHIMES RINGING AGAIN IN EARNEST
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.