The old adage in football that you’ve got 20,000 managers watching in the stands, but one whose opinion really matters, really does ring true across most clubs.
However at Pompey, the resurgence in form having moved to a fan-preferred 4-4-2 system looks to be the gel that may well repair the bond between Kenny Jackett and the supporters.
It’s been quite a week for the side, who’ve seen off Sunderland (at their own ground) and Northampton, in a week which has also seemingly started to unlock John Marquis’ true prolific prowess in front of goal.
Five goals in eight days for the former Doncaster talisman marks an incredible turnaround in fortunes for the forward, and the supporting second-striker role for Marcus Harness continues to prove the most unlikely of partners, but a true catalyst of success nonetheless.
A week is a long time in football and, under Jackett, we’ve seen long spells of winning football but for late changes or new systems scuppering ambitions late in the day.
It’s far too early to ladder this strong seven days towards any longer-term success or belief that Kenny will ultimately forget about his preferred system – but it does signal required acceptances to all parties.
Acceptance that the manager will, if needed, think differently on his playing staff, their roles and how best things need to change to get the right results.
And acceptance too, to be sought from the supporters (myself included!) that we do have a manager that will change, and that perhaps the ‘dinosaur’ rhetoric may need to be retired.
On balance, when Kenny joined the club and cited exciting, attacking football, to not deliver on that promise fuelled the fire for fans frustrations – and as ever, they’re more than in their rights to hold the manager to account on that front.
But that said, with all the (successful) systems we saw under Paul Cook, many supporters still weren’t happy back then. Add that to the backdrop of joining under new ownership at the club, and you do have quite the task for Jackett incoming to the club.
Frankly we’ve underachieved with Jackett at the helm so far, and although we’ve had the cup final win against Sunderland, and we’ve had some strong seasons, we’ve ultimately fallen away at the last hurdle under some quite bizarre circumstances.
Naylor dropped at Oxford will live long in the memory for many, I’m sure.
But now – finally – with change afoot, players responding positively to new responsibilities on the pitch and, crucially, the club looking financially strong in the face of COVID uncertainty, green shoots of positivity are evident at Pompey.
Long may that continue. And long may the restored feeling of pride of watching a passing and attacking side living to their potential. Credit where it’s due to Kenny for that – and here’s hoping over time, that bond with the fans can restore itself once again.
Photo: Daniel Chesterton