Managing Expectations

29 May 2013 05:55
What would be an acceptable season for Pompey?

If you walked into any bookmakers right now would see that Portsmouth are red-hot favourites to win League Two next season.

The odds for Pompey to become champions are as low as 4/1 with the next-best challengers in Chesterfield and free-spending Fleetwood Town a significant distance away at around 10/1.

But are those odds justified?

Pompey ended the season on a high after coming out of administration, have managed to keep hold of key players like Patrick Agyemang, David Connolly and (hopefully) Johnny Ertl and some of the players Guy Whittingham has signed have been praised by fans of other teams in League Two.

This has led to more than a few fans expecting a tilt at automatic promotion or at least finishing a play-off place. And why shouldn't they?

There is a positive feeling around the club for the first time in years, the squad boasts a potent strike force with ample backup and a club of Pompey's stature should be aiming to get back to League One (and then the Championship) as soon as possible.

However, it might be wise to err on the side of caution and temper those expectations.

Firstly, whilst some of our better players have been retained, a few have been lost or are likely to leave. Gabor Gyepes was arguably our best defender last season but he has gone whilst I will be very surprised if a player of Jed Wallace's quality stays at Fratton Park for much longer.

There is a good chance that the rearguard will be disorganised when the campaign begins because of the many changes in the squad. With Eastwood gone, Phil Smith and John Sullivan will battle to be the regular goalkeeper whilst I have no idea who will make up the regular back four now that Pompey have so many defenders, and that's without Rocha and Sodje who still may sign.

Despite what other people say there is just no knowing how the new recruits are until they've played a few games. If we're being honest, nobody had heard of Sonny Bradley, Danny East or Romain Padovani when they were signed and they may just turn out to be average at best.

Perhaps it is just me but there seems to be a disease amongst Pompey fans who believe every pre-season that every player we sign will be a great player for us, but you can guarantee there will be a flop or two.

It may take some time to settle into the division and how the opposition play. Teams that are physical and well organised tend to fare better in League Two than the sides that try and play their way out of the division. Pompey are more likely to be the latter but may struggle to keep the ball on the ground against the burly teams of English league football's bottom tier.

Then there is the fact that Pompey have an inexperienced manager at the helm. Guy did excellently last season amongst all the turmoil once he had a settled squad but this will be the first time he has managed under real pressure to deliver and it will be interesting to see how he copes with it.

The opposition should not be underestimated, either and the "big club" factor may help regarding signing players that other clubs wish to sign but it is more likely to be a hinderance on the pitch as teams are certain to raise their game.

Despite these things there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic next season. The team will have had a proper pre-season campaign, they are managed by a man who knows the club and loved by the fans, which will buy him some time if things go awry and the players he has signed may well prove to be brilliant and propel Pompey back to League One in no time.

However, don't be too surprised if we don't have it all our way immediately. If you were thinking on betting on Pompey to win the league outright now, you might do better to hold those thoughts and temper those expectations a little. 

Source: Fratton Faithful