PAUL COOK will lead Pompey to two promotions within the next four years.
That is the verdict of Sheffield Star and BBC Radio Sheffield journalist Phil Tooley, who has observed at close hand Chesterfield’s remarkable progress.
My understanding is Portsmouth had a £2.5m budget last season – that is £1m more than Cook achieved promotion withPhil Tooley
Since taking over in October 2012, Cook has won the League Two title, reached the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final and qualified for the League One play-off semi-finals.
Along the way, the Spireites have favoured a 4-2-3-1 system and won plaudits for the style of their football.
And Tooley is convinced the 48-year-old can be a successful appointment for a club which has just recorded its lowest-ever Football League placing.
He said: ‘Paul Cook will get Pompey up twice in the next four years.
‘He knows how to play football and knows how to get out of League Two.
‘Chesterfield overplay a little bit at times, but supporters have had two-and-a-half years of watching quality football. Now they are used to it and would not want it any other way.
‘Cook tries to win every match home and away, every time. His philosophy is why go for a point when you need three? He doesn’t aim for a draw.
‘His team plays passing football, they work on close control, and there have been four to six goals this season involving 15-16 passes in the build up.
‘Even in the play-off semi-final against Preston they had 65-per-cent possession in the first leg and 62 per cent in the second leg – despite losing both fixtures.
‘My understanding is Portsmouth had a £2.5m budget last season – that is £1m more than he achieved promotion with.
‘Chesterfield are believed to have the 14th biggest budget this season and finished sixth, with the ninth highest average crowd.
‘If Cook is allowed to compete budget-wise, putting him on par with others, he will do better than the rival clubs. And it’s a challenge he wants.’
Cook faces a busy summer of recruitment as he seeks to revamp the Blues’ failing squad.
And Tooley believes he could well revisit Chesterfield.
He added: ‘I suspect there is a chance he may go in for some of his former players, although would they want to go back into League Two?
‘Jimmy Ryan is out of contract and it wouldn’t shock me if Cook wanted him. There is going to be no new deal for the midfielder as his wage demands will be out of Chesterfield’s range.
‘It wouldn’t surprise me if Gary Roberts went as well.
‘He is under contract but one of the higher earners.’