The Contenders

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 23 October 2011

It seems like nobody knows who is going to be Pompey's next manager with CSI keeping their cards close to their chest. That hasn't stopped everyone voicing their opinion on who they would like to see take the job, as well as who they really wouldn'y like to see at the helm.

Here are my thoughts on the realistic contenders for the job and whether they would be welcomed with open arms or snubbed at the first opportunity.

Sean O'Driscoll

Neville Dalton recently wrote an article about why the former Bournemouth and Doncaster manager would be a good appointment and I would agree with him to a degree.

One of the biggest criticisms of Steve Cotterill's reign was that the "Cotterball" was horrible to watch and should O'Driscoll take charge then there can be no doubt that will install a philosophy at Portsmouth that sees his team play expansive, attractive football.

With all due respect to Doncaster, he probably took a club of their size as far as he could and it would be interesting to see what he could do at a bigger club with higher aspirations, even if they are for the long term.

However, this job comes with (sometimes unrealistic) expectations and I'm not sure if someone who has spent most of his managerial career in the lower leagues would have the experience or the respect to be successful at Fratton Park.

He also lacks the "X-Factor" that, for some reason, seems to be important at this club. Our fans like to have a character in charge of our team but Donny and Cherries fans didn't refer to their ex-manager as "Sean O'Dismal" for nothing. Would he have the personality to win over the fans and attract high quality players to Pompey? I'm not so sure.

Ultimately, I would be happy if O'Driscoll was appointed because he knows how to work with a modest budget and likes his teams to play good football which would be a massive improvement over the turgid rubbish we saw under Cotterill since 2011.

We would have to be patient, though, and this is a business where patience is certainly not a virtue.

Dave Jones

I have already been over the possible positives and negatives of Jones' possible appointment when it looked like he would be taking the job. However, Jones' odds with the bookmakers continue to drift and there have been reports that Jones hasn't even been considered by the owners, something I struggle to believe.

There were also rumours that Jones wanted to bring his own team in but retracted that request when CSI said no. Whatever the situation, I'd be happy with Jones' appointment if it did happen because he knows the division well but it is questionable if he can emulate the success he had at previous clubs with lower resources.

Mark Robins

At 41-years-old, Robins is considerably younger than the previous two candidates and has won praise for his work at Rotherham and Barnsley where he managed to turn the fortunes of those two clubs around.

The former Manchester United striker hasn't achieved anything tangible such as promotion in his managerial career but then he has only been in full-time management for four years.

Appointing Robins would be a bigger gamble than the former two candidates because he is young and has already fallen out with previous employers which led to his resignation from Barnsley at the end of last season.

I don't think this appointment would particularly capture the imagination of the Pompey fans who would want someone with more pedigree but on the flip side, I'm sure the supporters would be behind him and would hope he makes an impact on the south coast.

Stuart Gray

Whilst Guy Whittingham has ruled himself out of the running for the permanent position as Pompey boss, Gray hasn't been so vocal and may well be thinking that a good run as caretaker boss would see him in the frame to become the next manager, should he want the job.

This would be seen by many pompey fans as a cheap appointment that lacks ambition. Gray's only previous spells in management came at Southampton in 2000 when he was sacked after three months and at Northampton where he achieved promotion only to be dismissed following relegation and a poor start to life in League Two.

I believe Gray has plenty to offer as a coach and it seems that he is well liked by the players but I don't believe that he would be the right man to take this club forward.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Reading the reports in the tabloids prior to the match yesterday caused me to raise my eyebrow when I saw that the former Man United "super sub" had been linked with the Pompey job.

The 38-year-old is currently in charge of Norwegian side Molde, where he is almost certain to deliver the league title. Despite this, employing someone whose only other managerial experience comes from Manchester United reserves would represent a huge risk.

There can be no denying that the Norwegian was an extremely intelligent player in his heyday and he would be a "big name" appointment in some respects.

It would certainly get people talking should the United legend take charge of Portsmouth and despite his lack of experience, the amount of respect he commands in the game and his early promise at the helm of Molde may suggest that he would be a gamble that would pay off in the future.

There may be more favourable candidates for the job but none more interesting than this one. He is currently second favourite with the bookies to take over from Steve Cotterill so perhaps the reports during the weekend carry more weight than we think?

Eddie Howe

The former Pompey defender was reported today to be on CSI's radar as the man to take over from Steve Cotterill. Currently at Burnley, he would know the club well from his time at Fratton Park but it's doubtful the Clarets would let him go on the cheap.

At just 33-years-old, Howe is one of English football's bright young managers due to what he achieved at Bournemouth in very tough circumstances. Had he stayed at Dean Court, I believe the Cherries would have been promoted from League One last season.

As it is, his time at Turf Moor has already had its ups and downs. Burnley fell away from the play-off places last season to finish 8th and have struggled to get going this campaign, currently sitting in 19th in the table.

If he came to Portsmouth, I'm sure he would be given more time than the fans than most due to age and the fact he used to play for us, even if his career was plagued by injury. But whether he has what it takes to be a success at this level is something only time will tell.

Aidy Boothroyd

The former Watford manager expressed his interest in the job last week and he has experience of promotion from this division with Watford back in 2006.

His success at Vicarage Road could not be repeated at Colchester, who he left for Coventry where he also failed to make an impact. He is also nicknamed "Aidy Hoofroyd" for the awful style of football his teams play and so that wouldn't go down well with fans who wanted Cotterill out for that reason.

If Boothroyd was appointed, I would struggle to be enthusiastic about it and I'm sure many other Pompey fans wouldn't bother going to watch more long ball "football" whilst paying a fair wad of money to do so.

I would hope the owners don't make the mistake in appointing Boothroyd, even if he has plenty of positive things to say about Portsmouth.

Billy Davies

The fiery Scot is an outsider for the Pompey job and I'm surprised his name hasn't been mentioned by fans and the press more often.

His record in this division is fantastic having reached the play-offs with Preston twice, Nottingham Forest twice as well as promotion with Derby County. He managed to achieve this with little resources but always left his clubs under a cloud.

Thinking about it, Davies may well be the outstanding candidate for the job if he is interested in it. He is experienced at this level and has been successful in reviving clubs and getting them challenging for promotion.

The only major question mark is whether he would work well with the owners, being the outspoken character he is.

There have been other names linked to the post and I was shocked to see Iain Dowie's odds drop from 33/1 to 5/2 during the week. Thankfully, those odds have now drifted to 12/1.

There won't be many Pompey fans who would want to see "Davros" in charge despite his good record at Crystal Palace. He hasn't covered himself in glory since then with failed spells at Charlton, Coventry, QPR and Hull.

Other names to be mentioned are former Pompey midfielder Alan McLoughlin, who would represent a significant risk having never managed before. Steve Coppell who has said he has retired and may well never manager again and Alan Curbishley who hasn't been in football for a few years now and would probably be too expensive.

Who would I like in charge? Davies would be my favourite due to the success he has had in this division and the impact he could make at Pompey.

If we're talking long-term appointments then I'd also be happy with O'Driscoll, Jones or Howe as long as they are given time to change things and do things their way.

I think the owners should think twice before appointing Gray and/or Whittingham on a full time basis and leave Aidy Boothroyd well alone too.

As for Robins or Solskjaer, they would represent bigger risks than the rest but they may well pay off. I wouldn't be disappointed if either was appointed, knowing full well that it could go horribly wrong.

Whoever the owners decide is the right man for the job, let's hope they decide sooner rather than later with two tough away matches at Derby and Crystal Palace on the horizon.

Portsmouth Match Reports

Sky Bet League One Sat 21st October 15:00

Blackburn Rovers 3 - 0 Portsmouth

Last game - Match Centre


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