Kenny Jackett’s four-year tenure at Portsmouth came to an abrupt end last week, following a run of just a single league win in seven games and a defeat in the final of the Papa John’s Trophy against League Two opposition in Salford City.
Within a week of his sacking, Danny Cowley was appointed, accepting a three-month contract.
As always, the former Lincoln City and Huddersfield Town boss has been joined by his brother Nicky, as the pair embark on a different type of challenge on the South Coast. At Huddersfield, the primary objective was consolidation, whilst their achievements with the Imps will never be forgotten.
Recent Portsmouth seasons have built a base-level of expectation amongst Pompey fans, and rightly so.
The last two campaigns have ended with play-off heartbreak, and with the club in seventh and possessing two games in hand on Charlton Athletic in sixth, the play-offs are yet again a growing possibility.
Portsmouth have spent most of the season competing near the top of the table, but eight defeats in 2021 has left them scrambling for a spot in the top six. With the club sliding down the table, the appointment of the Cowley brothers intends to revitalise the current squad and keep their play-off ambitions intact.
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Some fans were initially concerned that Cowley’s style of play is too similar to Jackett’s direct approach to the game. However, this is far from the truth. In the lower divisions with Lincoln, there was a need for a style centred around the longer-ball, but as they progressed up the leagues, they invested in real technicians, showing an ability to adapt to what is required.
At Huddersfield, an attacking brand of football was also seen, but as they entered a relegation battle, it became increasingly difficult to achieve the results they needed that way.
Cowley is a manager who seemingly gets the best out of his more creative players in the squad. Jorge Grant and Jack Payne played starring roles during his time with the Imps, whilst Emile Smith-Rowe earned the respect of many under the 42-year-old’s management.
This will certainly benefit Ronan Curtis and Marcus Harness, who will be influential in Portsmouth’s hectic run-in.
Scoring goals and creating the opportunities to do so has become a growing issue in recent weeks. If Curtis and Harness can get back to firing like they were in the earlier part of the season, Cowley’s men have a great opportunity to not just make the top six, but to bring Championship football back to Fratton Park for the first time in ten years.