Ruthless Cook carries out his threat

Joe Devera    Picture: Joe Pepler
Joe Devera Picture: Joe Pepler
  • Cook axes nine players and four members of staff
  • Close stays and Webster made an offer
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The threat had been issued – and a ruthless Paul Cook yesterday demonstrated his strong words were not hollow.

A total of nine players and four staff were yesterday shown the door at Fratton Park in a brutal cull by Pompey’s new boss.

Upon his introduction on Friday, Cook had voiced his intent to rip up the club and transform it into promotion contenders.

‘You have got to have an edge as a manager,’ he said at the time.

‘You have got to have that cold side to you, if you want to be everyone’s friend you will quickly realise you won’t be a good manager.’

Then yesterday arrived.

The exits of Gary Waddock and Paul Hardyman had largely been anticipated, particularly with Cook keen to bring in many of his own staff.

They were joined by head of player recruitment Andy Melville, having spent a mere two months and 21 days at the club following his appointment by Andy Awford.

Completing the quartet was lead strength and conditioning coach Louis Langdown, who had served under the three previous Fratton Park managers.

Next Cook moved onto the playing squad, displaying the same zest for wielding his already blooded axe.

The stand-out names were Wes Fogden, Joe Devera, Dan Butler and Ryan Taylor in an attack which stunned many of the Fratton faithful.

Devera made 43 appearances for the Blues this season, establishing himself as a regular and once again demonstrating his versatility when asked to step in at right-back.

Only Paul Jones, Jed Wallace and Danny Hollands played more times than the 28-year-old during the campaign.

The defender had arrived from Swindon in the summer of 2013 and would have been one of the higher earners at a time when Guy Whittingham possessed a £1,500-a-week ceiling.

Talks had been conducted with Butler since late last year, with the Blues wary of losing the left-back without compensation considering his age.

In the end they effectively opted to waive that right by not offering a new deal and granting the 21-year-old a free transfer with no strings attached.

He made 54 appearances for the club, with 17 of them coming in the final 20 fixtures of the campaign.

As for Fogden, Pompey had an option on the energetic midfielder who had appeared nine times since fighting back from a cruciate knee ligament injury.

Cook, though, elected not to take it up, thereby freeing a popular player among supporters who played such a crucial part in keeping the club in the Football League at the tail-end of 2013-14.

Finally, Taylor met his Blues end after 16 goals in 59 games, following talks with Cook yesterday.

No such surprises over Bradley Tarbuck, Danny East, Nicky Shorey, Ben Chorley and Tom Craddock, however, through a combination of age and injury records.

At least an option was taken up on Ben Close and Adam Webster made an offer.

Regardless, Cook has demonstrated a ruthless nature – just as he promised.