Another new season, another new owner for Portsmouth FC. Pompey have been through a rough time through the past few years – with well-documented financial troubles, player sales, relegation, owner changes and manager alterations. In recent years it’s seemed to be never a dull day at Fratton Park. However, with new owners that look like they’re in for the long term and an ambitious young manager in Steve Cotterill, Pompey finally look on the up.
With Luke Varney arriving from Derby County, David Norris coming in from Ipswich Town, Greg Halford from Wolves and Jason Pearce from Bournemouth all signing for Portsmouth over the summer break, Cotterill is finally beginning to shape the squad to fit his vision, and to get them playing the sort of football that has seen his previous teams reap success in the past.
While the new signings are an encouraging start, more players are needed in critical positions, as the depth of the squad is a continuing issue. Full-back and striking positions are in desperate need of reinforcement, and a lot can be said about the loan market to fill the gaps, if only on a short term basis. Loans have proved to be critical to Portsmouth in the past, and while the Sheffield United chairman proclaimed the over reliance on loan players contributed to their demise last season, without the loans players that came to Fratton Park, we could have been seeing League One football this season.
Gael Kakuta and Patrick Van Aanholt of Chelsea both rumoured with links to Portsmouth this season. With only a month left of the transfer window remaining, time is certainly of the essence and Portsmouth chairman David Lampitt has even hinted there could be new faces at Portsmouth before Saturday’s season-opener at Middlesbrough.
Some will point to the departures of key players such as David Nugent and Michael Brown as reasons for Portsmouth to struggle this season, but there are some great young players knocking on the door of the first team. Many Portsmouth fans will certainly keep their eyes out for the pacey Australian winger Ryan Williams and England U-17 International Sam Magri to potentially grab some minutes this season – both impressed this summer in pre-season and the U-17 championships respectively.
Pre-season this year consisted of another trip to America, immediately bringing back painful memories of last years doomed trip which consisted of endless travelling, constant flights, injuries and poor games and facilities. A lot of people focus on the importance of pre-season, but for Portsmouth it was mainly about building fitness to ensure the club can hit the ground running away at Middlesbrough for the season opener. Charleston Battery provided the opposition over there, and surprised Portsmouth with their ability and fitness, with Greg Halford commenting on Twitter at his surprise of the abilities and facilities in the US.
Coupled with a traditional visit to West Leigh Park to play Havant & Waterlooville, and an embarrassingly cancelled game against La Liga side Real Betis, pre-season has been pretty kind to Portsmouth this year. Sure, there hasn’t been the glitz and glamour that other teams have had in pre-season, but Pompey have quietly gone about their business.
So, what are the odds? Sky Bet have Portsmouth at 33/1 to win the Championship outright, 9/1 for promotion, and 6/1 for relegation. What does that all mean? Mid-table, most likely. Sure, Pompey will push for a playoff place, but I think survival in the Championship coupled with two wins against Southampton will keep the majority of Portsmouth fans happy this year.
Play up Pompey!
Written by Chris Robinson, We Are Going Up’s Portsmouth Blogger
Chris tweets at @gingerboyo