JAMIE HOWELL says he was surprised and flattered to find himself linked with the manager’s vacancy at Pompey.
One bookie made the Bognor boss 40/1 to take over at Fratton Park after Andy Awford departed by mutual consent on Monday.
Howell, who is coming to the end of his sixth season at Nyewood Lane and bossed at Burgess Hill for a year before that, certainly wouldn’t expect to get the job.
But he said just the fact he had been named as one of many contenders was a good reflection of his success as a non-league manager and of Bognor’s progress in recent years.
“I’m young and ambitious and of course it’s flattering when you are linked with a job at a big club like Pompey,” he said.
“I’m pretty certain they’ll appoint someone with Football League experience but to be talked about in these circles is an excellent reflection on Bognor and on me.
“I like to think I’ve done well at Bognor over a fairly long period of time and there are many people who have been part of that success. For the budget we’re on, we as a club have performed miracles.
“I love it at Bognor and am quite happy to continue doing the job there and hopefully doing well, but that doesn’t mean I’m not ambitious.
“It’s the same for people like Alex Pike at Gosport and Lee Bradbury at Havant.
“They’re both operating one league above me in Conference South and have also been mentioned as possibles for the Pompey job - and they wouldn’t have been talked about if nobody thought they were doing a good job in non-league too.”
Howell, who captained England schoolboys and was with Arsenal as a young player before injury cut short his playing career, has led Bognor to one promotion, three play-offs and three Sussex Senior Cup finals in his time at Nyewood Lane alongside Darin Killpartrick.
He also spoke of his sympathy for Awford, himself a former assistant boss at the Rocks. Howell said Awford had been a good friend to Bognor during his time in charge at Pompey, loaning a number of young players to the Rocks.
“There have been times when I’ve not had enough players to put 11 out on the pitch and I’ve phoned him and he’s helped out straight away. You don’t have to do that at a club of their size but Andy’s always on hand if needed, and we’ve built up an excellent relationship,” Howell said.
“It’s a shame it hasn’t worked out for him in the manager’s role but I like to think there’ll be another role at the club for Andy, and I hope and believe Bognor’s good working relationship with Pompey will continue.”