No.19. Love on Loan

By PompeyXsAndOs

Is Dane Scarlett set to be Pompey’s new No.19?

Given the options available from the recently published list of player assigned squad numbers, this might be stating the obvious or alternatively be adding cold water to the lovingly warm fire that is hope.

Hope or optimism that has been lingering in the hearts of many Pompey fans, ever since George Hirst’s final Pompey game, goal and farewell instagram post to the Fratton faithful.

It’s so hard not be completely swept away by the romance and thrill that an impactful loanee takes a hopeful fan on.

All this whilst we are repeatedly reminded by our stadium neighbour, good friend, brother, sister, father or mother on the way home from the game, not to fall in love with him; like D’Alessandro, Thompson and so many more before Hirst.

Despite the warning, this game is not played by, watched, loved, even hated by robots. Therefore strong emotions build within and enable these feelings to occasionally trump fact, sensibility and logic.

Perhaps a shirt number maybe the last fact that fans (myself included) need to see, to finally bring ourselves to move on. To offer their thanks and well wishes again to George Hirst, a beloved loanee, and to fully focus and back what’s currently here in our newly refurbished building?

Like Leicester and Hirst last year, why will Pompey send players like Mnoga and other young talent out on loan this season? In Mnoga’s case, Pompey are expectant that he returns a more developed, hardened, resilient centre back, professional and person.

This historic system, based upon trust and good faith, when in good hands, enables the player to sustain a level of progress that may not be directly possible at their current club. It may even help the player to accelerate their growth.

Would Weymouth, or any other ambitious National League or adventurous League 2 side for that matter, like to secure Mnoga services permanently? I certainly think Weymouth would love the same player back for another go, based on his valued performances last season.

Could they fund such a bold move? I doubt they could financially lure Haji away from his three year deal at Fratton Park (2 years left) – I might be very wrong there. But if I’m not, we might as well be Leicester as Weymouth are just like us, just some way further down the food chain. We don’t hear Weymouth’s cries and hopes Mnoga’s return, as Leicester don’t hear ours regarding Hirst.

Feeding the romantic within, if Hirst were to put a full season together like the second half of his 21/22 campaign for Pompey, steering us to promotion with match winning contributions and goals a plenty, the considerable fee it would cost the Eisners’ to bring him here on a permanent contract, could still draw in significant profit in few years time. 

Therefore, plees to move heaven and earth and bring loanees Hirst and Carter back to Fratton Park were deemed simply enough for many Pompey fans to make Cowley’s (fictious) crucial third transfer window a huge success and a step in the right direction.

Somehow the feeling with Bazunu was different – our humility, genuine and faithful qualities would barely be enough to turn the head of such a player, destined for the biggest and brightest stage possible (the Premier League and not necessarily St Mary’s). Some how we felt that, having endured his struggles alongside him, we were closer to George and therefore had more of a chance with him?

But doesn’t a squad with Pack, Rafferty, Swanson, Bishop and Morrison, with potential wage contributions offered to help bring in Griffiths, Pigott and Scarlett on loan, look a much healthier, even stronger group now (not to forget the retained players as well)?

I for one am so thankful that the goal scoring burden, that our passionate, yet impatient fan base can heavily bestow upon our main tailisman, is not firmly resting upon one set of shoulders this season.

Given the sequential and late arrival of Pigott, Bishop and Scarlett to the club this Summer, there’s a sense that their minutes will be tactically distributed, hopefully leading to a consistent stream of goals rather than the bursts and steaks we have recently experienced.

Typically, Cowley has remained respectful, whilst being open about his approach to Hirst and the transfer market in general, ever since he signed his own permanent contract last Summer.

Having identified the needs of his team, he has sought to get maximum value from the playing budget available. Breaking the bank to acquire Hirst, with his wages creating an unhealthy imbalance across the squad, limits his chances of getting all the pieces he needs to complete this complex puzzle.

Cowley is far too shrewd to miss this point, offering a realistic assessment of this situation to the media and fans from a long way out, with a little charm and wistful romanticism to stay true to his heart and in turn make the fans’ hearts beat a little heavier for Hirst.

With Cowley at the centre of any deal with promising young talent, the care he and his staff have invested in Hirst, the impact, trust and confidence gained by both parties last season, will mean that even if the window of opportunity is very small to get the deal done, it’s hard to believe that it’s truly closed.

That’s what your heart says, but your head tells you there are three No.9 strikers now in the squad (2 already on loan), and even a loan move for Hirst, with Leicester paying the bulk of his wages, before January looks highly unlikely if not at least unnecessary.

And so, to borrow a good line that Cowley offered to fans last season regarding his players’ mindset, he in turn could establish an emotional thermostat that the fan base might benefit from using througout the new campaign.

Not just for mentally moving on from Hirst, and future flings with the latest crop of loanees, but for all things pumping through PO4. With the intention to leave, put or see Pompey in a better place than the day before, it’s time for fans to follow his lead, with fire in their belly and ice in the mind.

Photo: Below 2020 Media

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