Comment: Why is next season any different to the past two?

Pompey boss Paul Cook, left, and Gary Roberts Picture: Colin Farmery

Pompey boss Paul Cook, left, and Gary Roberts Picture: Colin Farmery

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It was this time two years ago, when Guy Whittingham and his coaching staff were having an informal chat with The News in Essex.

That perennial pre-season optimism was in the air and the oddsmakers had just cemented Pompey’s place as firm favourites for the League Two title.

If there’s any truth in fortune favouring the brave, Cook’s philosophy will help him.

The chat turned to who were likely to be there or thereabouts in the coming months ahead, when Whittingham issued his cautionary message.

‘This isn’t going to be easy,’ he warned, before we all returned to emptying our online betting accounts on a Blues title success.

Confidence brimmed into the realms of arrogance with a healthy dose of ignorance over what is required to succeed at this level.

Twelve months on it was the same setting in the plush surrounds of the Five Lakes complex.

Andy Awford was exercising tight control over talk of promotion bids, even if Ricky Holmes couldn’t help but say his team should be walking into League One.

Awford’s vice-like grip on title chat was at odds with his own conviction it would be achieved.

Five wins and two draws at the end of the previous campaign perpetuated the assurance.

We all know what followed, as the season fell short despite a lofty playing budget being made available for League Two level.

Now we know the English game’s fourth tier is no respecter of a club’s standing in the game. So why is it different this time around?

The sureness this is a season ready to lift off again is certainly in place, whether it’s players, staff, or fans.

But a manager with a CV which highlights recent success in the rocky League Two terrain does give a foundation to optimism.

By their own admission, Whittingham and Awford were learning on the job.

Richie Barker, for whatever reason, just wasn’t the right fit. Cook, at this early stage, seems to have a personality set to chime perfectly with the Fratton faithful.

Pompey will also start the season with a clear ideology, a defined vision and methodology under Cook.

Previous campaigns became muddled in terms of systems and personnel.

Barker’s conservatism hurt his Blues tenure.

If there’s any truth in fortune favouring the brave, Cook’s philosophy will help him.

It may be a sensible policy, given the past, from those exercising caution.

But there’s also some justification for those choosing an optimistic course.

– JORDAN CROSS