McInnes eyes Pompey promotion challenge - at last

Pompey boss Paul Cook, right, with Blues assistant manager Leam Richardson Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Paul Cook, right, with Blues assistant manager Leam Richardson Picture: Joe Pepler
  • Pompey have finished 13th and 16th respectively in previous League Two campaigns
  • Paul Cook has recruited 12 players so far – with 14 leaving Fratton Park

IAIN MCINNES eyed the third season of his tenure as Pompey chairman and insisted: We expect promotion.

Paul Cook is the latest manager charged with steering the Blues out of League Two.

I remember Cookie saying to me if you walk into a football club like Fratton Park with 16,000 screaming out at you you don’t need to be told what your target is. He followed that up very simply with “We need to be promoted”!

Iain McInnes

Prised from Chesterfield to oversee the task and allowed to utilise one of the best budgets in the division to bring in 12 summer recruits, McInnes and his board have put complete faith in the 48-year-old.

The campaign kicks off tomorrow against Dagenham & Redbridge, with a crowd of more than 17,000 anticipated to be present at Fratton Park.

And following the failures of predecessors Guy Whittingham, Richie Barker and Andy Awford, McInnes has made the ambition clear in no uncertain terms.

Promotion!

He said: ‘One of the last things that Andy (Awford), God bless him, said in his final statement was he was never quite sure what his target was.

‘I remember Cookie saying to me, if you walk into a football club like Fratton Park with 16,000 screaming out at you, you don’t need to be told what your target is. He followed that up very simply with “We need to be promoted”.

‘I agree with him, the board agrees with him – and we expect it.

‘We had a good budget last year and, if anything, it has been tough to achieve that target again this year in many respects.

‘We didn’t take the exceptional season ticket sales for granted and neither should we have done.

‘And a problem you have when changing managers on a regular basis – whether us or Manchester United – is there are a number of playing assets you are actually not going to utilise and those non-playing assets come at a cost.

‘However, Paul has a very similar budget, a competitive budget, and one he believes and we believe should get us success.

‘Frankly, we have a better manager. We have a more experienced manager with a successful track record who, as a result, understands what he is dealing with.

‘He has already been able to stamp his authority on the side and style of play, and I think perhaps that is a benefit the other lads (previous managers) didn’t have in that respect.

‘There are such fine dividing lines in all football terms. I would take promotion any way it comes.

‘There are going to be some good sides. Do we yet know how good we are going to be? I don’t think even the manager does.

‘Whichever way it comes ,we need to be one of those looking at promotion.’

The likes of Luton, Cambridge United, Oxford United and Notts County are all anticipated to be among the front-runners in the season ahead.

Meanwhile, newcomers Barnet and Bristol Rovers represent unknown quantities on their Football League return.

Regardless of how it is achieved, McInnes just wants promotion.

He added: ‘I think Paul can get promoted, but I don’t think it will be easy.

‘I would still choose to go up by Wembley if given the chance, just to take 50,000 Pompey fans back there again!

‘But that is me being personal, no guarantees on that score.

‘I think we’ll get promotion, though. It will be a disappointment if we don’t.’

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