Young and hungry – the recipe for Pompey’s future

By Dan Brett

With the pendulum continuing to swing on Kenny Jackett’s tenure as Portsmouth manager, there’s no wonder why supporters have grown ready for a change in command.

Eisner backing of Jackett has been unwavering since his appointment, infamously offering a two-year contract extension just six months into his Pompey career.

With his contract set to end in June 2021, the boss – who holds a 51% win ratio during his stint in PO4 – has come under fire from frustrated supporters following three seasons of uninspiring football, play-off heartaches and questionable decision making.

In balance, you’ll never agree with any manager’s decisions at any level of the game – whether you’re one of many managers who dared to drop Alan Shearer at Newcastle, Jürgen Klopp leading a whole-squad celebration after drawing with West Brom at home, or Steve Cotterill letting Matt Ritchie leave the Island City due to a lack of foresight. There’s no ‘perfect appointment’.

But that doesn’t give tolerance to lacklustre style and unattractive football, especially at a time when fans (rightly) will be at a crossroads of whether they invest their hard-earned money at any level of the game, given how the world has changed so dramatically over the past four months.

For years, supporters have been handed the ‘at least we have a club to support’ mantra to hold onto, and now more recently the ‘at least we have football at all!’ motto.

Whilst factually correct, Pompey supporters – notoriously vocal with approval and disapproval in equal measure – should feel implored to criticise the regime. Whether that’s the Eisner ownership they overwhelmingly voted for, or playing squad management and backroom staff who’ve failed to deliver on three attempts.

As far as well-trodden paths go, the question would still remain of who’d be available and willing to lead Pompey into another new dawn as the club strived once again to get out of League One.

Should we look to re-employ Paul Cook, the passionate Scouse who didn’t quite see eye to eye with the Eisners on their arrival? Or should we look for a different appointment – perhaps a young, hungry manager looking to cut his teeth at a ‘big club’. Memories of Richie Barker’s reign are hard to forget…

For me? I’d have a look at Lee Johnson, formerly of Barnsley and Bristol City. A young manager who, whilst not yet setting the world alight, has amassed impressive cup runs, turned beleaguered sides fortunes around and pushed them on, but has also seen plaudits from high-level managers – including Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola – for his style of play.

Either way the Eisners stick or twist, or whether Jackett decides to move on, let’s not forget Portsmouth are an incredible opportunity for any manager looking to awaken a sleeping giant.

Pompey fans clearly, overwhelmingly want more attractive football to drive success, as a fanbase who’d rather build slowly playing well than rise quickly playing ‘Jackettball’.

And I believe time is rife for the Eisners to be brave and bold in their approach, looking towards less experience and more drive as we push on towards, hopefully, a more successful 2020-21 campaign.

The Jackett Era failed to provide despite the hope and promise of a manager who’d been there and done it before, but unfortunately has fallen short due to a philosophy which simply hasn’t kept up with the modern style proving so successful in lower divisions.

The days of “kick it long” are proving fruitful in sparse quantity nowadays. Time to look at who could breed that style, rather than herding the same “sit back” mentality we’ve grown used to for, arguably, far too long.

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