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Will Pompey mount promotion push this season?

Portsmouth season preview 2018/19

2018/08/02 07:43
By Paul Stevens (Playmaker Club Specialist)

Pompey are preparing for their second season back in League One after a promising re-introduction to the third tier in 2017/18.

As has been the case in recent seasons, Blues fans have been familiar with seeing their team in the upper echelons of the bookies’ pre-season betting to finish in a promotion spot and, this season, that confidence may be well placed. Kenny Jackett is at the helm for his second season in charge and will hope to further build on his excellent pedigree at this level, having won promotion from League One with Millwall and secured a record-winning points tally of 103 with Wolves in recent years.

After finishing 8th in League One last season, this article will evaluate the season ahead - and try and predict where Portsmouth may finish.

No frills Jackett

2017/18 saw another year of progression for Pompey after years of achieving increasingly higher league positions since predecessor Paul Cook’s appointment three years ago. In juxtaposition to Cook’s swashbuckling style however, Jackett was initially seen as a steady appointment who could maintain the upwards mobility of a club which had sunk from the Premier League to League Two in just a matter of seasons. That has so far proved to be the case. The latter’s more direct style of launching balls up field to Brett Pitman and Oliver Hawkins and relatively cautious team setup may not excite the public as much as Cook’s, something which drew criticism from sections of fans in the last campaign.

Nevertheless, the team finished just outside the play-offs in a league of mediocrity last year. We are hoping that he will be able to replicate his triumphs in previous years with Wolves and Millwall down at Fratton Park this coming season.

Transfer business

This summer window has been far better structured for Pompey than in 2017. Last year, our transfer plans were somewhat thrown into chaos by the sudden departure of Paul Cook to Wigan, in addition to the early losses of key first team figures such as Michael Doyle and Enda Stevens. That was to signal a slow summer of building which intensified in the latter weeks with the likes of Brett Pitman and Dion Donohue arriving before four arrivals on Deadline Day.

This summer has been almost the exact opposite. Kenny Jackett immediately set out to strengthen crucially-lacking positions in central midfield, wingers and goalkeeping competition, which saw Craig McGillivray, Tom Naylor, Ronan Curtis, Louis Dennis and Lee Brown all arrive on the south coast. Of these, the stand out signings seem to be Tom Naylor from Burton who was also being courted by Sunderland and who will look to partner fellow new signing Anton Walkes from Tottenham in central midfield.

Ronan Curtis may also prove to be a wildcard addition with added pace and trickery to bring balance to our left-hand side and complement star player Jamal Lowe on the right. For a sustained promotion push, it could be argued that we are still short of a left winger and a pacey forward but on balance, our squad looks to have more strength and depth than in 2017/18.


There is still a sense that Pompey must invest in one or two more attacking outlets to really challenge for an automatic promotion position even though our new recruits look like upgrades on last season’s loanees and Kal Naismith. A pacey striker in particular may reduce the goal scoring burden on Pitman, who scored a remarkable 42% of our goals in 2017/18.

Despite contending with a hatful of injuries last season, we still finished only just outside the play-off positions so that can instil confidence ahead of this campaign. With likely promotion contenders Barnsley and parachute-payment fuelled Sunderland among those coming down from the Championship, it promises to be another challenging season at the top end of the table and I would add the likes of Charlton, Bradford, Southend, Fleetwood and Peterborough to that list.

Time will tell but I am predicting a play-off place for Pompey this year and the majority of our fans would surely be satisfied with another year of progress.

Brett Pitman
NameBrett Douglas Pitman
Born1988-01-31(30 -yrs-old)
Dual Nationality
PositionForward (Striker)
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