|Cotterill pulls it off, so now give him the tools CSI|
Mon 08th Aug 2011 21:54 by Colin Farmery
With one bound - well. a smartly-taken volley by Luke Varney in injury time actually - he was free!
Pompey boss Steve Cotterill was under the spotlight a little bit at Middlesbrough, after the disastrous end to Pompey's pre-season training camp in the USA. Would the team suffer the after-effects of jet-lag from their delayed flight? Would they be under-prepared after last Saturday's cancelled friendly with Real Betis?
The answer was an emphatic 'no'. Not for the first time, Cotterill came up trumps. His team turned in a typically gutsy performance at the Riverside in difficult conditions to snatch a deserved point in stoppage time.
It is clear the limited number of players he has at his disposal are giving their all for him and the club. And he even managed to conjure some substitutions to change the course of the game, deploying his only three outfield replacements effectively to change the course of the game.
Last-minute surprise arrival Christian Dailly even provided an assist of sorts for the equalising goal.
Many fans' eyebrows were raised when Dailly - 37-years-old and released by League 1 Charlton at the end of last season - arrived at Fratton Park.
That is understandable. To be fair though, Dailly is not a bad signing for covering a variety of positions in defence and midfield. He won't be as quick as he was in his prime, but he has the experience to make up. Gianluca Festa and Kenny Swain are a couple of names from the past who spring to mind as veteran defenders who were able to offer Pompey decent service in the short-term.
However, that fails to paper over the huge crack that Portmouth FC were unable to field a full complement of substitutes - even when the Football League reduced the quota from seven to five - for the opening day of the season.
Until the middle of July, things had been progressing rather well under new owners CSI. Varney, David Norris - another goalscorer yesyerday, Stephen Henderson, Greg Halford and Jason Pearce were all signings which promised much.
But since then? Nothing - Dailly's one-month deal apart.
A high-profile, but seemingly futile £2.5 million chase for Martin Paterson at Burnley suggested Pompey were still talking the transfer talk. Now it is time to see the club walk the walk.
CSI will not get another honeymoon. Fans know the CVA of previous regimes' making needs to be paid off. When CSI bought PFC they knew that too.
No one is pushing the panic button, but the fact is Pompey are only marginally better off squad-wise than they were exactly 12 months ago as Andrew Andronikou sifted through the chaos of Administration.
But if Pompey can go to Middlesbrough and dig out a point with a squad which is anorexic compared to Harry Redknapp's 'bare bones' of seasons' past, then they have the potential to challenge for the play-offs at least.
After West Ham, who will surely win this league by a mile, there isn't a lot to choose between the sides in the Championship. The surfeit of draws and odd-goal wins in the first round of matches is testament to that.
In the next two weeks or so, the challenge to CSI is to give Cotterill the tools to do his job. Preferably starting on Monday.
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