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

 

Readers (if there are any). These thoughts were jotted down before the game at Accrington on Tuesday (27/4) evening 

Just a few days ago I was bold enough to venture an opinion that ‘it’s looking increasingly likely that that will be yet another season in League One. The last two away games (MK Dons and Swindon), that must have infuriated every Pompey fan, have made that an absolute racing certainty….that was until Saturday (1-0 win); it’s still extraordinarily unlikely but not completely impossible. 

Everyone at PFC is accountable but especially the owners, the CEO, the former manager and a good number of our ’professional’ footballers. Even allowing for the pandemic the club is a bit of a  joke with distant tweets from our owners in the US who know precious little about the culture and importance of football in this country, people who have achieved just about diddly squat in four years; the CEO who has consistently tried to defend the indefensible; the former manager who was seemingly determined that we will never enjoy any success and a large group of players who, at best, are inconsistent but are largely not up to the job or unwilling to commit to the cause in a fashion that would win football matches, invariably against lesser opposition.  

Going back to the away game at Northampton, and possibly a couple of weeks before that, our performances have been dreadful to the point of being embarrassing. The Cowley’s have managed to squeeze 16 out of 24 points despite a number of relapses in the last couple of weeks; in itself a significant achievement.  

That’s pretty amazing, in my view. I suppose you could say that we’ve had just two defeats plus a ‘no show’ at the County Ground…if we’d had 2,000 fans there I dread to think what the response might have been like! Over a season five wins and a draw would have given us 92 points!! 

The now aborted European Super League (ESL) says it all really. If you sell your national sport to the devil this is what you get. Not forgetting, of course, that these odious individuals have been assisted by Uefa and our own Premier League and the FA who have introduced ridiculous law changes and technical innovations that have decimated traditions and the culture of the game which developed over 150 years in favour of greed and obscene amounts of money that have the made the game a stranger to the football loving public over 40 years of age. 

It’s clear that had this project (ESL) gone ahead it would have had a massive impact on the game in this country, not just the precious Premier League but also the Championship, League One and League Two. My understanding that the main ‘movers and shakers, here were the Mancs, the Scousers and the Gooners. They have one thing in common and that is that they are owned by billionaire Americans who deal with investment return, dividends, control and franchises and suchlike. They are rarely seen, they have no knowledge (or care about) the traditions and the importance of the game to the ordinary men/women of the UK…and that includes the clubs they actually own!

Everyone should appreciate that there is a link with our club inasmuch as we are also owned by Americans. Pandemic or not these people have emphatically failed to move this great club forward. Their ‘get out of jail card’ is this is the way they set out and if, when normality returns, 18,000 turn up every week they are unlikely to change. 

Investment on the playing side is hardly earth shattering and if you combine that with the desperately poor judgment of our recent manager we find ourselves in a position where the squad/team is quite inferior to the side that got us promoted four years ago. Arguably the only three players that actually added anything to the squad while we’ve been in League One this season  are Pitman, a young right-back (Johnson) from Accrington and a goalkeeper that struggled to get game time with his last two clubs in the league. The rationale expertly articulated by our CEO has always been that they have a wage structure and a plan to be sustainable and latterly this has been enforced by the now aborted restrictions set out by the EFL in terms of squad size and, more importantly, a wage cap. This was a plan engineered by the little clubs to keep the golden eggs like us and Sunderland ‘escaping’ to the Championship. Ironically Sunderland have all but blown their chance of automatic promotion and we’ve come up short three years running and may even miss the play-offs…if we did scrape in we’d play Sunderland over two legs! 

Investment in terms of the ground is frankly embarrassing and comprises essential repair work, maintenance and bit of ’tarting up’, although you’d struggle to spot it! Once again they have a partial excuse inasmuch as the fans would prefer to stay at Fratton Park rather than moving to some sterile, off the peg, modern stadium in an isolated location outside or on the edge of the built-up area. They have gone to the trouble of obtaining planning permission for a replacement Milton End that, if it was ever built, would like a—e end of rodeo stand in Tucson, Arizona. The two lockdowns, indeed the whole season, was a window of opportunity logistically to at least build this modest improvement but the CEO has come up with various excuses why this has not been possible. 

IF we scrape into the play offs and IF we won the play off final…we’d find ourselves in a highly competitive Championship playing in a stadium already near to capacity with poor facilities that, as things stand, are incapable of radical improvement needing to spend £millions on the playing squad to even have half a chance of staying up. 

We all know what the fans want…if you haven’t got ambition then what’s the point? But in many aspects we are stuck behind a rock and a hard place. 

PUP

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Hello everyone. I hope everybody is keeping well and taking care.

The good news is that if everything goes well we’ll be able to return to Fratton for the start of next season. The bad news is that it’s looking increasingly likely that that will be yet another season in League One. 

If Jackett had stayed any longer we’d probably be in the lower half of the table right now. The Cowleys, however, are a breath of fresh air despite the fact that the honeymoon period is very definitely over. In effect, in all probability , all this has achieved is a delay of execution because there seems to be no way we can be promoted. Last week The news announced after the Burton game our chances of automatic promotion was over. In reality that particular option was done and dusted by the previous manager in Jan / Feb!!  

It was the Grand National last week and Pompey face three enormous fences to get back to the Championship. 

Qualify for the play offs. It looks like Sunderland plus three others. It seems likely that one of the remaining places will go to Blackpool and possibly Lincoln who appear to have got over their bad spell. The remaining spot seems to be between us, Charlton and Oxford (ten goals in their last two games). In theory we have the easier run-in but I’m not taking much notice of that because we’ve struggled against the lesser sides all season. 

Let’s assume we make sixth spot. That would mean a two leg play-off semi-final almost certainly against Sunderland. That’s not going to swell the optimism from my perspective! 

If we got to the Final at Wembley I think we’d have an even money chance against Blackpool or Lincoln but that’s a very big ‘if’! 

So where’s it all gone wrong this time? (Select one or more of the following) 

·        Kenny Jackett…motivation, poor team selection, use of subs.

·        Acute lack of tactical awareness/absence of a game plan/fitness

·        Tendency to be too easily bullied/ simply not streetwise.

·        Lack of investment

·        Poor business in transfer/loan market especially the transfer      window

·        No fans.

·        Failure of owners / CEO to address glaringly obvious problems

·        Wage cap and squad size limit

·        Inexplicable policy of allowing contracts to run down.

·        Absence of even one quality striker.

That’s ten reasons but I could add and expand on this one. 

Like Boris and the good old lockdown Mark Catlin failed to respond quickly enough to the problem with Kenny Jackett who should have gone  at least six weeks before he was actually shown the door. Many, including myself, think he should have gone after we lost to Sunderland in the play-offs almost two years ago. KJ lacked inspiration, he was negative, he was a bit of a tactical dinosaur and he lacked empathy with the fans. I don’t remember him ever apologising for numerous abject performances. Wrong man at the wrong time. Not for a club like us! He cost us big time, promotion should have been done and dusted while we still had Clarke, Lowe, Chaplin, Burgess etc. 

Poor business means we now have a worse squad than the one we had three years ago. 

The desire of the majority of fans to stay at Fratton Park is more than convenient for the owners who see 17,000 turn up every week to watch the likes of Rochdale, AFC Wimbledon, Northampton and Fleetwood. Even with a window of opportunity during the last lockdown they chose not to do any significant work on the ground. The nonsense with the wage cap/squad size was opposed by the CEO but, in all likelihood, was quite convenient for the owners. 

I’ve said it before but under the likely emerging EFL regulations we could be stuck in this league forever! 

To conclude let’s have a quick look at the side that drew at Crewe last night. 

McGillivray. A really good signing bearing in mind his lack of first team football at previous clubs. Left out of side because KJ had a ‘gut reaction’ at a critical time last season. He won’t be here come August.

Johnson. Here is recent rarity, a good signing and will undoubtedly improve.

Daniels. This guy is a joke enjoying a three month retirement break on the south coast. Like to know who came up with this idea.

Whatmough. A high quality central defender held back because two or three bad injuries. Injury free this season and another one  that might decide he’s better off somewhere else at the end of the summer break.

Raggett. Difficult to know what to say about ‘Ragettini’. He’s no footballer but can’t be faulted for guts and determination; our biggest threat in opposition penalty area.

Naylor. Skipper and genuine nailed on Jackett player. To be honest he has struggled under the Cowleys and he may also move on this summer.

Close. You could write a book about this kid. He is our best midfield player and was abysmally treated by Jackett. That said, he is rarely played to his strengths, his defensive work isn’t great and he does tend to fade later in the game.

Williams. He’s OK but never going to set the world on fire. This is about his level, better managers than Jackett would get more out of him.

Harness. A very capable player and he should be at this level for a fee of £800,000. Exciting when he’s in form and on many occasions he passes by virtually unnoticed.

Curtis. You have to love his tenacity and with Jamal Lowe we had the most attacking approach play in the league. Always capable of giving you a goal but has gone backwards this year because of our overall inconsistency and playing in different positions. He could be gone as well…see what his mother says!

Marquis. What can you say? Signed as an out and out goalscorer and he will always give you a dozen or more league goals. But he is clueless and nobody would ever describe him as footballer…’couldn’t trap a bag of cement’.  

I know you won’t all agree but that’s part of the fun of following your team 

PUP 

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



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