It is that time in the season when owners, fans and indeed managers start to take stock of how they have started the new campaign. Daniel Hooper, our Portsmouth FC Correspondent, gives you his take on the start Pompey have made in League One…
The Ten Eleven Game Progress Report – Portsmouth
by Daniel Hooper
To badly paraphrase Dinah Washington, what a difference a game makes. When I started writing this as a ten game progress report, before Pompey’s meek home defeat to struggling Oldham, the progress report would have read a lot more positively, following the 3-0 victory against Bristol Rovers which left us in eleventh place with a plus two goal difference. Instead I find myself slightly exasperated at both Pompey’s inconsistency and at my own procrastination for not finishing this piece before the dispiriting eleventh game.
Still, the eternal frustration of the football fan notwithstanding, a little perspective is necessary as the season is young and for Portsmouth, in their first season first back at this level in five years, the target should be about staying in this league, of which we are on course to do. Despite finding ourselves in fifteenth, at this stage in the season that means little as we are five points from both the promotion and relegation places, with a positive goal difference. And compared to fellow promoted teams Doncaster and Plymouth, who respectively find themselves nineteenth and propping up the league in twenty-fourth, our form is pretty respectable – four wins, two draws and five losses.
The trouble with Pompey is our aforementioned inconsistency. The form of our last six games reads WLWLWL, which I suppose at least is at least a consistent pattern. We follow an away victory against AFC Wimbledon with a home defeat to Northampton. The highlight of our first ten eleven games, the 4-1 victory against promotion hopefuls Fleetwood, is immediately followed by a 2-0 defeat to Scunthorpe. One week we can be thrashed against Oxford Utd. on our travels and a fortnight later we can pick up a satisfying point against the promotion favourites Paul Cook’s Wigan at the DW. And our lack of consistency seems to be contagious as Rotherham, who before visiting the south coast hadn’t won away in 27 games, managed to take away all three points from Fortress Fratton in our only televised game of the season thus far.
Perhaps Pompey’s inconsistency shouldn’t be a major shock. The team are adjusting to life under a new manager, under new ownership, in a new league and with new additions yet to fully settle into the team. While Brett Pitman has adjusted to League One life extremely well, the quartet of players Pompey signed on dealine day – the prolific former Dagenham striker Oliver Hawkins and loanees from Cardiff midfielders Stuart O’Keefe and Matty Kennedy along with Burton defender Damien McCrory – are still getting acclimatised, though Hawkins and Kennedy have started their goal tallies. With time Kenny Jackett should be able to mould this into a top half of the table team but for now we will just muddle through.
So, in summary, this Portsmouth progress report has been bought to you by the letter ‘I’ for ‘Inconsistant’. Maybe I should have waited until after the twelfth game to finish this piece…
Not much competition or surprise here. Our major summer coup Brett Pitman from the Championship team Ipswich, has hit the ground running with nine goals and counting. A prolific and consistent striker, Pitman is smart money to be the leagues top scorer at this rate.
A notable mention for the non-league football graduate Jamel Lowe, who is showing signs of his skill and notched up a couple of goals to his name in the season highlight against Fleetwood, including a wonder goal from a ridiculous angle.
Depends who you ask. Bookmakers expect Pompey to be promoted. I personally hope for survival. It took four seasons to get promoted from League Two and, despite having the additional resource of Disney money and Kenny Jackett’s managerial nous, I don’t expect we will necessarily be promoted from League One on first attempt either. Next season, however…