2017/18 Player Review

Another season done and dusted, with Pompey finishing 8th in Sky Bet League One.  Jack Gallop shares his verdict on each player and Blues manager Kenny Jackett. Agree, disagree? Leave a comment below, or air your views on our Twitter or Facebook page. 

Luke McGee: 7

A very hit and miss season for our young number one, ranging from MOTM performances to keep us in games, to costing us numerous points on the road with basic errors.

However, overall, I have been satisfied with his first season, he will learn from his mistakes and I can see him being a top-level Championship keeper in a few years.

I would like for him to have some more competition though to keep him on his toes, hopefully, more so than Bass and Henderson (injury) gave him this season.

Nathan Thompson: 8.5

One of my favourite players, a natural leader who loves a big tackle and will flatten an opponent at any opportunity.

Operated well in the midfield when needed and is one of the most consistent players around.

Personal highlight of the season was his reaction to Mowatt missing his penalty at home to Oxford, gave us the nasty side we need.

Anton Walkes: 7

Looked promising, nothing special but fairly consistent and can comfortably do a job at this level.

I can see him signing permanently in the summer and turning into a fine player for us, either in the middle or at fullback.

Jack Whatmough: 7

Yet again a season blighted with injury which is preventing him nailing down a regular starting spot.

Every time he plays he impresses me and shows great maturity, future captain material if he can stay fit.

Jack has immense power and rarely loses a header despite not being the tallest centre back.

Hopefully, he can recover well and put his injury woes behind him to become a regular in our defence next season.

Christian Burgess: 6.5

Not his finest season given his outstanding first two seasons, as he adapts to playing at league one again.

He is a great ambassador for the club and is another player who shows great leadership both on and off the pitch.

Hoping to see him push on after the wakeup call of Whatmough providing him with some healthy competition towards the end of the season.

Matt Clarke: 9.5

Simply outstanding this season and sadly I can only see him playing top end Championship football next season given how he has developed.

One of the silkiest centre-backs I’ve seen, better going forward than most of our attackers as he twists and turns to get out of trouble.

Cannot emphasise how good he is any more, all I can say is that I hope we get the fee we deserve from him, and have a few clauses in there,  as I have no doubt he is going right to the top.

Brandon Haunstrup: 6.5

Previously I have been a critic and thought he is surplus to requirements, however, he has shown signs this season of being a decent football league player.

This season he has played far more than I thought he would have given our injury crisis at left back. He has not been outstanding, yet he hasn’t looked entirely out of place either, his best game was Wigan at home where he put in a great shift.

I think he could benefit from a full season on loan, preferably in the football league so he can prove his worth here.

Dion Donohue: 6.5

He has shown glimpses of his quality, with a great left foot and set-piece delivery.

Although I still do not know his best position as he has looked vulnerable at left-back and hasn’t really been given a run of games in the middle.

I would keep in around next year as a squad player as I believe he has potential to improve.

Gareth Evans: 7

After being left out of the team and looking like he had no Pompey future earlier in the season, he did well to force himself back into the team.

His versatility always comes in handy, especially in an injury-hit season such as this one. A real fan’s favourite due to his work rate and direct approach, can’t see him leaving any time soon even if he ends up just being a squad player.

Stuart O’Keefe: 6.5

An injury hit season meant he never lived up to be the calibre of player we thought we had signed.

He did give us some much-needed aggression in the middle in certain games when we needed it most, putting himself about and giving Close some freedom to play his passing game.

With Cardiff going up I can’t see him being there next season, although I probably wouldn’t opt to sign him permanently.

Adam May: 6

He was handed a huge opportunity by Kenny earlier in the season being given regular starts in the midfield, however, he struggled to seize this and hasn’t looked ready to play at this level yet.

I think he will make it one day but needs a season or two out on loan to develop and find his feet in men’s football before he plays for us again.

Danny Rose: 7

Similar situation to Evans with the way he was out in the cold at the start of the season. When he returned to the side he showed us just what we had been missing in the middle and put in some great displays.

A devastating leg break cut his season short against former side Northampton, so hopefully, he is fully recovered and ready to get back to his best for the start of next season.

Ben Close: 7.5

Has really developed this season into a fine player this season, we all knew what a fantastic passer of the ball he is but now he has started to add more to his game physically and defensively.

Looking like a top prospect his tidy passing and clever footballing brain have seen him nail down a starting space, and I can see him staying in the starting eleven for next season.

Perhaps one of the unsung heroes from the academy as he goes about his work quietly.

Connor Ronan: 6.5

A frustrating loan period for him as he drifted in and out of the side and never really made any position his own. He was technically a great player; comfortable on the ball, good distribution, and a dangerous shot.

However, I still cannot wrap my head around why he was signed given how with our direct tactics it rarely allows for small creative players to operate going forward.

I am sure he will go on to have a great career, but I cannot help but feel we didn’t utilise him anywhere near as much as we should have.

I would have started him behind Pitman, and given him the freedom to express himself and show us the player we were promised when he signed.

Kal Naismith: 6

Sadly never showed signs of being the same player we saw at the end of last season, whether this is down to the step up in level or just down to lack of confidence.

I will wish him all the best after his contribution to our title-winning season and I am sure he will have no problem finding a team. Bet he is wishing his move to Wigan at the start of the season went through now.

Matty Kennedy: 6.5

Started his loan spell so well with some lively performances and energy down the left side, forming a great partnership with Donohue for a small period.

However, over time it became obvious what he was going to do, running down the line before trying to cut in and cross with his right foot virtually every time.

Another one who will be surplus to requirements at Cardiff, who I personally wouldn’t take back as I think we could do better.

Jamal Lowe: 8

One of the stand out performers this season, always looking bright and energetic on the wing.

It’s crazy to think how he was playing in the sixth tier of English football only last season given how he stepped up the challenge of playing league one football.

Only 23 I can see him continuing to develop into a fine footballer, adding more goals and end product to his game can see him stepping up to become a good championship player. He also contributes to one of our best chants so that’s always a bonus.

Ollie Hawkins: 7

A steady first season for our striker/centre back, showing bizarre versatility to play in both positions over the course of the season.

Gives us a presence up front and an actual target for our long ball tactics, winning headers and bringing the ball down.

He has scored some important goals and great headers for us, he wouldn’t be my starting striker though as I think he is a great option to have off the bench.

Conor Chaplin: 6.5

Very disappointing season from our golden boy, never really suited the tactics and has even had limited appearances off the bench as the season has gone on.

I really think he needs a full season on loan somewhere where he will be one of the first names on the team sheet to really progress and prove that he can one day be a regular starter for us.

Brett Pitman: 9


Super Brett defies belief, on appearance he looks like somebody’s dad has come out of retirement in Sunday league, yet he is truly an unbelievable player.

To miss two months with injury and to still score as many as he did proves his class, finally giving us the 20 goals a season striker we have been missing all these years.

He has got great footwork and skills that you wouldn’t expect him to have as well as a very clever and experienced footballing brain.

Hopefully next year he has some more players helping contribute to our goal tally rather than him solely having to carry us on the goal front again.

Kenny Jackett: 8

The gaffer never had an easy job, following on from one of our most entertaining seasons ever you were never going to please everyone.

With an average squad, mid-table budget, and a direct style of football I would deem the season a success with an 8th place finish in our first season back in league one.

One thing that has really stood out has been the lack of draws (lowest in the league) and the number of results groundout that our performances have not necessarily warranted.

The bottom line is that Jackett is not easy on the eye with long ball and defensive tactics that can kill off games, however, he is very effective at getting points on the board and is a very safe manager.

Proven at this level and given the right backing, I would like to see us put on a real promotion challenge next season, with the right recruitment, let’s hope we can push on and get back to where we belong.

Play up Pompey!

Photos: Joe Pepler

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