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

When we have such a glorious opportunity to get promotion back to the league where we arguably belong it doesn’t appear to be unreasonable to ask for some proper investment to guarantee that this time next year we are playing Nott’m Forest, Derby or Leeds Utd  not  Scunthorpe, Wycombe or Accrington Stanley!

Our position at the top of the league is an astonishing achievement based on a very sound defence and being able to get a result even when we are not playing well. For all that I think most fans will agree that at no time this season have we ever been convincing and, in recent weeks, in the absence of Thompson and Brown and now the loss of Ben Thompson the cracks are beginning to show especially when the other side manage to keep eleven men on the pitch! 

We have put ourselves in a position where the play-offs (God bless them) are almost unavoidable but who can be sure of winning automatic promotion or even coming through the back door via the play-offs with a trip to Wembley. Go on, be honest. 

Whatever you say about his tactical approach we have an experienced manager who invested quite limited funds very wisely during the summer months and we have been reaping the rewards for the best part of six months. This has been built on the questionable ability of a striker who struggles even at this level (someone who divides opinion even more than flaming Brexit!) covered by a proven goalscorer who has lost his way after a fantastic campaign last season. This is balanced out by, as I say, the defence, our tactical approach, consistent team selection, good fortune with injuries/suspensions and two of the most coveted wide players in the lower leagues.

When I say balanced, I mean ‘finely balanced’ underlined by our worst home performance of the season (other than the opening game against Luton!) when we failed to cover the loss of little Ben Thompson. Of course, you can’t expect to win every game but on Saturday it was the manner of the defeat. 

This is surely the time for our wealthy owners to back the management team and look to force Millwall to the negotiating table and bring in at least one quality striker. This needs to go hand in hand with keeping hold of Clarke, Whatmough, Lowe and Curtis. Instead we have brought in a benchwarmer and someone who was out on loan to Wycombe Wanderers from two other League One clubs. I’m not doubting Jackett’s  judgment but surely these are two players with potential for the future; the question is at what level will they be playing. 

Maybe the owners/administration are afraid of the Championship and the level of investment that would be required merely to survive at that level, set that against the inability to increase gate receipts, other than by putting up the prices, because our antiquated stadium is already virtually full to capacity and unlikely to see any significant improvements between now and August. I really don’t know. What I do know is that if we fail to take this opportunity we will lose a number of quality players and we may not get such a good chance for many many years. Indeed the next fortnight is a crucial time!

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I’ve been a bit busy lately and haven’t had a chance to catch up with the blog for 2018/19; although, perhaps surprisingly, very little has changed...we march on ahead of the chasing pack that realistically is now down to four or five other clubs. 

December was close to a disaster for us...we lost two league games! That aside we came back from South Yorkshire with a hard earned point; disposed of 10 man Sunderland at Fratton; came back from sunny Fleetwood with a thumping win despite going behind; ground out a win against a spirited Wimbledon side and then produced a last minute trump (hate that word) card to knock Norwich out of the cup. 

The Gillingham thing is a strange one although we did waste a number of chances in the 2-0 defeat. It’s difficult to explain, perhaps it’s them rising to the big occasion like they did to beat Premier League Cardiff on Saturday. We were very average against Wimbledon but we won...that’s what good teams do!  

The bookies have us at 5/4 to go up as champions but, more interestingly, have us in the region of 5/1 ON to be promoted...there again they have three other clubs (Luton, Sunderland and Barnsley) at odds-on and we all know only three clubs will  be promoted! 

Last season 71 points got Charlton into the play-offs so for us not even make the final shake-up would require us to have a major unprecedented collapse in terms of form collecting far less than a point a game...it simply isn’t going to happen. Saying that we don’t want to be sucked into the play-offs by surrendering our lead to Luton and Sunderland...because then it becomes a lottery. Personally I think that that is also an unlikely scenario because Sunderland aren’t that good and Luton haven’t got the depth of squad that we’ve built in the last twelve months. 

The most worrying aspect of this golden opportunity is this month, not in terms of fixtures but the transfer window. Will the Eisner’s invest to make sure we start next season in the Championship? I hope so. This involves improving the squad in certain key areas, especially up front, and making sure that the vultures don’t enjoy any success in persuading the like of Lowe, Clarke and Curtis that the grass maybe greener elsewhere. I think we should continue to pressure Millwall into letting Ben Thompson complete his season long loan or, even better, letting us sign him. Irrespective of our tactical approach and whether that will change as the season draws to a close we still need a quality striker. We should be OK at the back when we have cover like Walkes, Donohue and Burgess. If there is to be some (modest) investment it should be to push us over the line rather than cut price deals for youngsters based on their potential. 

Be interesting to see what kind of team that Jackett puts out tomorrow night in the chekatrade.com trophy. Personally I applaud him for putting out the strongest possible side in the FA Cup at Carrow Road although we don’t want that to become a distraction as I’m a great believer in points on the board rather than games in hand. The bigger distraction is not necessarily progressing in the competition but drawing one of big six and the sort of unavoidable excitement that would result...after all the FA may not believe it but the FA Cup is magic for 99% of fans!

Play Up Pompey

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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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