The Cross Word: Plotting to secure Fratton throne begins

Phil Brown
Phil Brown
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Within minutes of the mutually-consented statement being made live his phone was awash with emails, texts and voicemails.

The drama of Andy Awford’s departure was the catalyst for Mark Catlin’s phone being sent into meltdown.

You thought the plotting was brutal in Game of Thrones...

And the stand-off before those looking to sidle into the Fratton hotseat begun to offer their services had lasted precisely no time whatsoever.

It’s an ugly truth there’s no period of mourning in this business, no respectful distancing before the stampede over Awford’s Pompey managerial grave begins.

You thought the plotting was brutal in Game of Thrones...

And just like in the battle for rule of the seven kingdoms, the whisperers will attempt to weave their influence on those who wield power.

Within hours of Awford’s 13-month tenure coming to a close, a lengthy list of suitors for one of the most desirable roles in the Football League had been established.

Sky Sports and their ‘sources’ were understanding Southend boss Phil Brown was open to the prospect of a move to PO4.

No surprise there either, with Brown always keen to say the right things about this football club.

Brown fits the brief of having both the personality and convictions to handle a role which consumes any who falter for even a moment.

His success with Southend is another box tick on the criteria laid down by chairman Iain McInnes and Catlin.

The fact he is operating at Roots Hall shows he can be accommodated financially – a criteria overlooked by those playing the fantasy game with candidates.

But Brown’s relegation from the Championship with Preston in his 11 months tenure at Deepdale, will be something for those who matter at Fratton to investigate in their due diligence.

Likewise, Martin Allen’s past will, no doubt, be under the microscope as he comes under consideration.

Pompey connections are no longer part of the blueprint, although Allen is hardly bracketed with Hall of Famers like Awford and former incumbent Guy Whittingham.

He was dismissed as a Blues player coach for gross misconduct in 1999, before winning a tribunal.

There was a police investigation at Cheltenham too, but Allen’s history also documents a promotion at Gillingham and personality which would chime perfectly with supporters.

His success at Barnet this season means his star is on the rise, although his forceful nature would also, no doubt, make for an incendiary relationship with McInnes.

Ian Holloway told The News he’s ‘flattered’ by the Pompey link after being sacked by Millwall last month.

Personality and his CV are big plusses, but would working in the basement tier of English football appeal to someone who has always operated in higher divisions?

Pompey’s appeal precedes them, but failure at the level could be terminal to a promising career.

So don’t expect the likes of Nigel Adkins to risk reputations after crafting a standing up the leagues.

Financially the likes of Mark Warburton at Brentford are prohibitive, as he gets set to depart the Bees with a host of suitors.

And if managers towards the head of the Championship are commanding wages in excess of £500,000, it makes little sense to throw ridiculous money at filling the role here and detracting from the playing budget.

Neil Warnock, despite the appreciation of members of the board, would fall similarly and, at 66, could now be ready for calmer waters.

Uwe Rosler, Darren Ferguson and Brian McDermott have all been mentioned with varying degrees of suitability applicable.

Gary Waddock’s place towards the head of the betting arrives with him in situ.

He has stated his desire for a managerial return, but the club’s preference is for him to form part of a structure for the longer term.

And thank heavens the hooplah over Harry Redknapp can now be put to bed. Redknapp being made bookies’ favourite, shows you how little the oddsmakers know at present.

That’s because it’s early days in the battle for the Fratton throne.

Expect there to be plenty of twists, turns and manoeuvres before the new king’s crowned.