Portsmouth, one of the sleeping giants of League One it could be said, and certainly a club with a distinct history, now stand on the brink of securing a second promotion in 3 years. This time, the club is potentially going from League One to the Championship under the guiding hand of Kenny Jacket, who has previous experience with Wolves of promotion to this league.
Certainly this current season started with a good foundation, on the back of good recruitment, consisting of established players & loanees, mixed with some talented home grown players. With consistent results, Pompey were at the top of the league.
Good football was being played and still is for that matter, but as is the case with the recruitment of the loanee players, although they are contracted for the ‘season’, parent clubs nearly always have a clause inserted which gives them 24 hour recall on that player. This exact scenario occurred before & around Christmas, when they lost Andre Green, Ben Thompson and David Wheeler back to their respective parent clubs. In the case of Green and Wheeler, it was two strikers going out and when that happens, it’s never good for any side.
That said, the squad was bolstered by good signings such as Andy Cannon, Bryn Morris & Omar Bogal, to name but three players who settled in as best they could.
The Team lost a bit of momentum at this time, which resulted in them losing top spot and slipping down the league to Fifth, in a run which comprised with a couple of surprising defeats and a stack of draws, which under different circumstances they may have well won.
This led to some fans surprisingly calling for the head of Jackett and calling for a change in the formation he was playing ( 4 -2- 3- 1) which at face value, looks as if its a defensive minded set up, but on closer inspection is found to be a good overall balance favoured by a lot managers, because of the attacking options it gives whilst keeping stability on the defensive side of the ball.
However, all said and done, results finally picked up, with a couple of good Checkatrade trophy results, in particular the 3-0 away win at Bury, which booked the team’s place at Wembley. In the final, they will face Sunderland. After the Bury game, they continued their resurgence with a 5-1 thumping over Bradford at Fratton Park, which stemmed the flow and steadied the teams position in a credible 5th Place.
Football fans can be a fickle bunch at the best of times, but this seems to have quashed the rumoured disquiet in the Fratton faithful and far from being the disaster that many were saying it was, which should hopefully guarantee them a play-off spot. This in itself would not be a disaster, as last season, the only managed to finish 8th, so an improvement on that position is no mean feat.
The opinion amongst Pompey fans is that they will finish amongst the play-off places. However, listening to the opinion of assistant manager Kevin Gallen, he believes they can continue to improve on past performances.
For Portsmouth, it’s not beyond the realms of possibilities that they can make the automatic places. However, only a series of strong results in the final 11 games would ensure closing the 5 point gap on Barnsley.
Can Portsmouth achieve their aims of promotion this season, whether it be automatic or through the play-offs?