Allen defends Pompey summer recruitment policy

Ricky Holmes. Picture: Joe Pepler
Ricky Holmes. Picture: Joe Pepler

Steve Allen has defended Pompey’s summer recruitment policy – and is adamant the quality is there to be able to challenge for the play-offs.

The 47-year-old quit his job as physio/assistant manager on Monday after three-and-a-half years of loyal service at the club.

Despite being urged by Richie Barker to remain, the popular Allen felt it was time for a new challenge and today joined Bristol City.

He leaves behind a squad he helped former boss Guy Whittingham to assemble.

Allen was responsible for bringing Jed Wallace, Patrick Agyemang, David Connolly, Yassin Moutaouakil and Thery Racon to Fratton Park before this season.

In the summer he also identified Sonny Bradley, Bondz N’Gala, Ricky Holmes, Andy Barcham and Danny East.

The remainder of the current 25-man first-team squad was put together by Whittingham and others.

Allen is under no illusions the players have let the club down and failed to consistently prove their worth.

Yet he believes there exists genuine ability within the underachieving numbers.

He said: ‘Let’s be honest, at the moment I don’t think any of the squad have delivered upon expectations.

‘Do I think they are good players? Yes, of course I do.

‘Do I think other League Two clubs wanted them? Absolutely.

‘I have always believed the squad is good enough to be in and around the play-offs – and I still believe that.

‘Guy wanted 21-26 year-olds because, being in the man he is, felt that was right for the future of the club in terms of longevity and desire.

‘I helped him recruit some of those players and we spent hours and hours and hours over six or seven months looking at them.

‘A lot of them had come from the division higher.

‘Although Holmes and Bradley came from relegated clubs, so did Ross Worner and Barry Fuller, who are now at AFC Wimbledon.

‘My friend is Neal Ardley, the Wimbledon boss, and he has told me they would have loved to have signed Barcham, Holmes, Joe Devera and Simon Ferry.

‘So we have got players other people wanted. It’s just that for some reason it has not worked.

‘At the start of the season we were tearing teams to shreds, Cheltenham was one of the most one-sided games I have ever seen.

‘I believe the quality is there, though, so much is down to confidence.’

Allen today reunited with Steve Cotterill at Ashton Gate, but believes the club he has left behind is in good hands with Barker.

He added: ‘Maybe a new manager with a new structure and different organisation can make it flourish.

‘He’s a good man. I think he is top drawer and talks a lot of sense.’