The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

It’s a funny old game isn’t it?

On the 2nd of June, news had filtered through that Kenny Jackett had been appointed manager of Pompey. It was considered by many as a major coup for the Club and by the majority, an upgrade on the manager that had departed for Wigan.

Just 91 days after the season kicked-off though, some Pompey fans are already pressing the panic button. Of course, there can be no argument that results in the last four weeks have been a huge disappointment and in addition to that the performances away from home have been at best, uninspiring.

The 1,209 travelling Pompey fans were subjected to a toothless display at Blackburn and many of the blues players that day contributed their poorest individual performances of the campaign thus far.

Just a few days before that Pompey travelled to Doncaster where they had found themselves two goals behind in the opening 300 seconds, all but condemning themselves to defeat with 95% of the match left to be played.

Even Pompey’s victory at Gillingham was far from comfortable. An excellent performance and goal from Cardiff loanee Matt Kennedy was the only difference between us and probably the poorest League One side we’ve seen this season.

Surely these factors as well as disappointing results against Oxford, Rotherham, Northampton, Scunthorpe & Oldham would suggest my advocating for the anti-Jackett mob. Not so. After the opening four games of last season, Pompey had failed to win a single one.

A 1-1 draw against Carlisle may not seem so bad on paper now, but after all the hype of the pre-season and the fact that the Cumbrians had played with 10 men for 67 minutes including added time, left the Pompey fans dis-satisfied.

Their attacking prowess that day was almost non-existent and after just 90 minutes of the season questions were already being raised on the usual social media outlets.

Pompey had the chance to put things right a week later at Crewe but put in a luke-warm performance to come away with a 0-0 draw. Defeat in the League Cup at Coventry followed by a comprehensive win for Morecambe against the Blues had piled the pressure on the scouse boss.

Look on Twitter and the Cook Out hasghtag was being used more times by Pompey fans than BBQ enthusiasts. Following that, Pompey went on to win 5 of their next 6 games.

Poor runs in September and January had once again had many doubting the man in charge’s ability. Defeats to Doncaster, Exeter and Wycombe in the New Year had some worrying that Pompey may even miss out on a play-off spot.

Doncaster and Plymouth were running away with first and second place respectively and many were convinced that the only way Pompey could now save their season was to sack the manager and bring in some fresh ideas and new direction.

The board stood firm though, Catlin and McInnes stuck by their manager and following that defeat against Wycombe, Pompey went on a five game unbeaten run and lost just two of the next 18 games, incredibly winning the league on the final game of the season.

The lesson here? Don’t panic.

Surely we have seen with the chopping and changing of managers in recent years that this has had absolutely no positive effect in the long term for our club. Whittingham, Awford, Waddock and Barker were all quick fire appointments which ultimately lead to failure.

Let’s get this straight, Kenny Jackett hasn’t got things right at Pompey so far. Releasing Linganzi and Aborah without bringing in his own version of this type of player is clearly to all of us a bad decision.

Pompey more often looked second best in the middle of the park. His openness away from home just isn’t working and sadly his faith in Bennett so far has proved fruitless. No goals or assists in 13 appearances this season for the ex-Doncaster man has many infuriated that Kal Naismith isn’t getting a look-in.

Lets get real here though shall we? Pompey fans in the last two seasons before this have un-questionably been entitled to high expectations. League Two was clearly not a level that our club belonged in and promotion was most definitely a realistic aim. In days gone by many would say that League One was also way below Pompey’s level. But take a look at that league for a moment.

Wigan, Bradford, Charlton, Blackburn are big guns for that league. Clubs with far more League One & even championship experience in some cases in recent year are Scunthorpe, Rotherham, Peterborough, Oxford, Blackpool etc making this a tough environment for a newly promoted side and if you listen to many people in the know they will tell you that Pompey’s wage budget is in the bottom third for this division.

The season kicked off 13 weeks ago. He is still learning about his team, as are the fans and the players. The owners are also slowly learning about the club and I believe will learn in time that extra investment will be necessary in order to properly compete.

There are going to be many ups and downs this season. There will be many more frustrations but this is a long term plan and its down to us as fans to understand that and back the manager and his players.

16 games of a 46 game season and Pompey are 5 points clear of the relegation zone but in contrast are 5 points adrift of the play-off places.

How many times did Paul Cook tell us to judge him in May? He was absolutely spot on wasn’t he? Let’s all learn from that.

Defeat in the FA Cup against a side who are in good form with a bigger budget believed to be bigger than Pompey isn’t the end of the world. A look at the stats will tell you that Pompey had more possession, shots, passes, dribbles, corners, tackles, interceptions and aerial duel wins.

The Luton Town keeper was also given man of the match. Of course, the result is the only stat that truly counts but my point is that those stats aren’t the sign of a team that isn’t playing for their manager and you have to believe that the team will come good sooner rather than later.

The Bradford result was unlucky and again you have to believe that if they play that way at home for the rest of the season, they’ll win the game the majority of the time. You don’t get a lot of time in football these days and of course it’s a results industry but a manager of Kenny Jackett’s pedigree surely deserves at least a season?

More importantly, if you want KJ out, who comes in and is there money to then bring in his own playing staff to suit their style of play?

The grass isn’t always greener.

Keep the faith everyone,
Play up Pompey

Dan Shaw

Photo credit: Joe Pepler

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