Ward pleased to see duo stick around

Pompey manager Michael Appleton with coaches Stuart Gray and Guy Whittingham. Picture: Colorsport / Joe Pepler
Pompey manager Michael Appleton with coaches Stuart Gray and Guy Whittingham. Picture: Colorsport / Joe Pepler

Joel Ward has welcomed the decision to retain coaching duo Guy Whittingham and Stuart Gray as key men in Michael Appleton’s backroom staff.

The Pompey utility man was part of the squad that chalked up three wins and one draw in the caretaker duo’s six games in charge as the club pursued their replacement for Steve Cotterill.

While some clubs allow a new man to bring in his own staff after his appointment, Blues chief executive David Lampitt made it clear early on that Whittingham and Gray would be remaining on the first-team coaching staff and any new manager would be working alongside them.

And Ward believes the two existing coaches – combined with the new manager’s fresh injection of ideas and methods – represents a dream ticket for Pompey as they bid to climb the Championship table.

He said: ‘Guy and Stuart did a fantastic job.

‘Stuart came to the club in the summer and is a fantastic coach.

‘He made that job his own and Guy has great experience, too.

‘Guy has obviously been around the club a lot, so that helps. He knows a lot.

‘They’ve done a great job together and, individually, what they bring to the table is different.

‘It helps us gel and they are making us better players.

‘That’s the kind of guys they are – they want to help us push forward and progress.

‘It’s good to have them on board still.’

Appleton’s appointment raised eyebrows in certain quarters as a relatively-unknown name who came to the fore in the latter stages of the recruitment process.

But Ward insists the new manager will benefit from his grounding at Manchester United and his extensive coaching experience with West Brom.

And with Appleton forced to quit the game through injury at the age of just 27, Ward expects that experience to stand him in good stead for the Blues job.

Ward said: ‘Anyone who has been around Sir Alex Ferguson is going to have something about them.

‘He will bring experience to the table having worked under great managers and very influential people.

‘When you are around these people it rubs off on you.

‘You want to succeed like they do.

‘He was unlucky with what happened in his career but has bounced back and has had a great career in coaching.

‘For any footballer that would be hard to take but he has shown character to recover and make a name for himself as a coach.’

Ward believes there is a real desire among the players to close the gap on the teams above them with more than a third of the season now gone.

Ward said: ‘We are always pushing and want to do the best we possibly can for this club.

‘We are a good bunch of lads who want to achieve things and get results.

‘That will help us and help the club.

‘You always want to better yourself and be the best you can be.

‘That’s the case whatever line of work you are in.’