Pompey backroom team close to completion

Paul Hardyman, right, alongside Andy Awford on the first-team touchline Picture: Joe Pepler
Paul Hardyman, right, alongside Andy Awford on the first-team touchline Picture: Joe Pepler

Paul Hardyman is set to make the permanent step up to Andy Awford’s backroom team for the 2014-15 campaign.

The former Blues left-back assisted Awford in a caretaker capacity during the club’s seven-match unbeaten run at the end of the season, alongside first-team coach Alan McLoughlin.

Hardyman was touted as a possible replacement to succeed Awford as the club’s Academy boss, having worked with the under-18s in recent years.

Awford has now made his intentions clear that he wants to continue to head the successful three-pronged set-up, with Hardyman and McLoughlin both working as his senior coaches, before he sets about appointing a new Academy boss.

And it now seems that the 50-year-old is close to agreeing to the promotion.

Awford said: ‘I’ve asked Paul Hardyman to become first-team coach alongside Alan McLoughlin and I don’t want that to change.

‘We were successful at the end of last season and I want to keep it that way.

‘We did what we did last season with people being comfortable around each other, so hopefully we can keep it like that for next season.

‘Paul has a decision to make and if he decides that it’s not for him and he wants to stay with the Academy, then it’s up to him.

‘He has done a great job there and if that happens, I would get someone else to join the first-team coaching staff.’

While it would be a new, permanent arrangement, there would be a definite bootroom feel to Pompey’s new coaching line-up.

And most fans would welcome the move, with all three having served the club with distinction as both players and coaches during their time at Fratton Park.

As well as their individual coaching and playing experience, Awford clearly feels their long association with the Blues plays an important part.

‘The three of us go back a long way,’ said Awford.

‘We’ve all got that Pompey ingredient and we all know how each other works.

‘We all worked closely in the Academy together and my motto is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

‘Everybody is comfortable with everybody and I would certainly be happy with it.’

Awford insisted he is in no hurry to have his backroom team assembled but he also needs to recruit a goalkeeping coach.

Alan Knight, David Coles, Phil Smith and Anthony Williams filled that role at various points this season and it’s been rumoured that Coles – who is currently at Bristol City working under Steve Cotterill – may make a return to Fratton Park.

Awford said: ‘Once the backroom staff is announced, then it will just be a goalkeeping coach that I need to sort out. But I am in no rush to do that either.

‘It’s a specialist coaching area that we need to address.’