Isle of Wight   Pompey Supporters Club
The Chairman & Old Sage's View on Being a Pompey Supporter, Life & Everything Else  ...

Enjoy....last one for a while! 

The season finished as it began with a 2-0 home win and Pitman getting both goals in each game. We finished 8th and you might say mission accomplished if the mission was merely to consolidate our place in League One. 

What happened between that first game and the final match of the season last Saturday was a model of inconsistency built around some very strange decisions in terms of recruitment, the squad, tactics and team selection. 

Our top ten finish is testimony for the reward of three points for a win (anyone remember when it was only two points?) and the fact that, although all games start 0-0, we only managed six draws all season, the lowest in the league. From a more cynical perspective we lost twenty games and  Rochdale and Oldham lost less than that and one stayed up by one point and the other was relegated! 

On the up side we achieved our objective at the start of the season; something most of the amateur pundits had predicted back last August, we unearthed a quality finisher, the development of Matt Clarke and Jamal Lowe was apparent for all to see and we integrated several youngsters in to the team, most noticeably Ben Close and the latest return of Jack Whatmough. We had two very good victories away to Charlton and at home to the eventual champions Wigan and until the last few weeks we were adept at putting away lesser sides. 

On the down side I still maintain that the playing budget was ridiculously small for a club with an average home gate approaching 18,000 and new billionaire owners. We over estimated the quality of this league, we failed to find a new Michael Doyle, the manager under estimated the quality of the squad he inherited from Paul Cook and in terms of new players, with exception of Pitman and latterly Walkes, overall, it has to be said, pretty disappointing. The result of that approach was inconsistency for the first three months; a simply awful run of form going into the new calendar year and, when we had a whiff of success, we totally capitulated after beating Wigan up to the last game...unfortunately, too little, too late! 

Overly critical? Possibly so, but my glass is still half empty on the simple basis that despite finishing eighth I don’t see that as a foundation for improvement next season. If the playing budget is not increased (and I stress ‘if’) then I can only see a fresh influx of journeyman players and another round of second rate loan signings. That will have to be balanced out against the likely loss of Matt Clarke. 

I don’t want the new owners to be throwing silly money at it but I do expect a budget that, has a minimum requirement, reflects the enormous fan base here at Fratton...there has to be more to a season than redesigning the club crest for overtly commercial reasons.  I do want the Eisners to understand football in this country the vast majority of the supporters revolves around only really caring about Saturday afternoons at 3.00pm and Tuesday nights at 7.45pm. Increasing capacity and ground improvements in conjunction with the development of the academy and commercial interests is great, if not essential, but the average punter only really cares about results and success on the pitch...however you look at it that is the way it as always been. 

I don’t like the argument that in some way the huge gates, based on nearly 15,000 season ticketholders, is some kind of hindrance because additional ‘on costs’ such as stewarding and, in any case, we weren’t ready for the Championship. I’ve never come across a club that has rejected the possibility of promotion! It might only be another twelve months but we are facing a season playing the likes of Accrington, Wycombe, Wimbledon and Rochdale when it could have been the likes of Leeds, Nott’m Forest, Derby and a couple of trips to London. 

I can see the arguments in favour of the organic growth of the Club but the unfortunate flipside to that is that by the time that bears any fruit in terms of real success a lot of the more ‘senior’ supporters will be organic themselves having moved on to a better place...not all of them but some of them! 

At Our Annual Dinner a couple of weeks ago it is important to say that the event was well supported by the Club. We all know Mark Catlin and Kenny Jackett was the perfect gentleman.  They both spoke very eloquently but didn’t really have a lot to tell us that we didn’t know already. KJ’s CV is unquestioned but he did make errors during the season and failed to endear himself to the fan base largely because he followed a very passionate individual (love him or loath him) and a major success story. I don’t hold that against him; it’s just very different. It has been well documented that he is going nowhere but he needs to be given a budget that gives him an even money chance in 2018/19. Indicative of that statement is that, with the exception of Pitman, all our best performers were here last season and this campaign we were in a higher league! 

Ah, that’s better. Anyway we will have to wait and see.


PS  Predictably Scummers discovered their ‘get out of jail’ card at the last minute and I fully expect ‘our’ World Cup to last no more than a fortnight. Happy days!


Please note that the views expressed in this column are my personal views not those of IOWPS

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