jubel2017 champions2Les vår medlem Michael Pantlings oppsummering om 2016/17-sesongen og hans tanker om veien videre.

 

Michael Pantling er en engelskmann som har vært bosatt i Danmark i mange år. Han har også vært medlem i Venner av Portsmouth i mange år og han har flere ganger bidratt med innlegg på nettsiden vår. Her er Michaels tanker etter 2016/17-sesongen

What a season that was!
What a season that was. After a bit of a shaky start it just got better and better.

Our performance at Crewe away in August was unremarkable and there was a sense of deja vu away at Plymouth – one could already see that they were going to be in the race for automatic promotion.

Having been at Fratton to see that match against Doncaster I thought we were totally outclassed and would be lucky to get anywhere near the top 3. This was reinforced during the televised match viewed together with other Venner af Pompey members (our largest turnout in København) although we were playing better it still wasn’t looking that good for automatic promotion.

Home matches against Crewe and Orient were a bit of a wake up call and Orient were unlucky not to get a point. Going away to Carslile and winning so convincingly was the turning point of the season for me – I really thought that our only chance of promotion would be via the play-offs until then. After that our season just got better and Carslile’s collapsed. I went with a couple of football fans who both remarked how good Enda Stevens was.

My next away match was to Colchester and again Pompey absolutely dominated a well organised home side – we were truly “on our way”. I noticed that Adam Webster came along with his family to support Pompey which was a nice touch.

Plymouth at home was always going to be a draw given what was at stake for both clubs particularly as there was genuine hope of Pompey overtaking them for 2 nd place, but Doncaster were still “out of sight”.

I missed out promotion victory at Notts County but it was highly satisfying after all these years.

Our final match was surreal, I don’t believe that anybody really believed it could happen – top for the 7 minutes that mattered.

All in all a very exciting and sometimes entertaining season.

Spillerne
The defence shone, the midfield buzzed and the forwards stuttered.

jack whatmough95The Burgess / Clarke combination were excellent and combined with some of the better goalkeeping provided the backbone of a very solid and effective defence. Good to see Pompey keeping their faith with Whatmough (bildet til høyre).

Stevens was outstanding and continued and improved from last season. He’ll be missed.

I’m a big fan of Evans but still don’t think he is a right back. His contributions going forward were, as ever, great but defensively not as good as Davies last season. I didn’t quite know home much playing time he would get following the signing of Barker and was pleased that a way had been found albeit a bit of a risky approach.

Michael Doyle was rock solid and I had hoped we could get one more year out of him, even if it meant less playing time, his enthusiasm and commitment saved us points. The dressing room affray with Burgess was unfortunate but made the team stronger in the end.

Rose / Linganzi did ok depending on form. With Doyle having left it will be interesting to see who the preferred partnership is.

The left wing “problem” must have been quite perplexing. At the beginning of the season I preferred to see Lalkovic but both Bennett and Naismith improved greatly as the season wore on. Both have lots of talent but lacked consistency and suffered lapses in concentration throughout.

Baker on the right kept Evans in defence and on balance it was probably correct – he faded towards the end of the season and it wouldn’t surprise me if he were to leave (he has been linked with Coventry).

Gary Roberts had moments of brilliance but is clearly past his best.

Jamal Lowe must be the find of the season, he certainly contributed to Pompey’s success.

Chaplin had limited success despite the odd wonder goal but his style didn’t really fit, still not the finished product.

I have never been particularly impressed with Smith and was pleased to see him go on loan – surely we can find somebody better.

Main tried hard but suffered from injury, he was never really convincing and I cannot see him getting much playing time.

Eion Doyle did relatively well despite scoring few goals, he understood the tactics and showed touches of class.

Nicke Kabamba showed some promise but lapses in concentration could have been exploited by the opposition.

Noel Hunt was only a bit player and I cannot really see him staying.

All in all it was good to see a relatively stable team but a bit unfortunate for some of our talented youngsters who get very little playing time.

The Manager
paul cook og leam richardsonCongratulations to Cook/Richardson (bildet til høyre) for winning the league and good luck to them at Wigan.

They stuck to their plan despite massive criticism at times and succeeded. Loyalty clearly has its price in this day and age. None of us should forget the efforts made by truly loyal staff such as Guy Whittingham and Andy Awford to name just two who kept us in the league against all odds.

The fans are fickle but loyal to the club and have finally had some reward for their patience. The numbers who regularly attended away matches was truly astonishing this season.

The PST
What a truly remarkable job has been done by the PST in supporting the club. Something to be truly proud of.

With the wisdom of hindsight, the frailty in the sustainability of the financial model could have been spotted earlier, particularly with regard to the stadium, but it will always be questionable whether a robust improvement could really have been made.

The Sale
Not being a shareholder I didn’t contribute to the debate at the time. My personal preference would have been continued fan ownership and certainly PST representation on the board. Nobody can better protect the fans interest better than the fans themselves even if they do not always agree what they want.

The steady rebuilding foreseen but the board always seemed sensible and far preferable to what we have been through before even if it meant lowering our ambitions, at least for the time being.

Fratton Park
The ground that we know and love so well has turned into an albatross around our necks that would have sunk the club without added finance.

I normally sit in the North Stand which has had a few superficial improvements but isn’t up to modern standards. There is a lot of structural wood which could easily become illegal with changes to stadium regulations despite the installation of sprinklers.

I had a rare visit to the South Stand to try a hospitality package (highly recommendable) but was horrified at the state of the stand – again lots of wood and very poor access/egress that would never be allowed in new construction today.

By all accounts, the Milton end is structurally the worst of the lot.

A huge amount of money is needed just to maintain the current capacity – it is just a pity that the extent of this problem wasn’t clearer to all a bit sooner.

My preference would be to stay at Fratton and turn the pitch through 90 degrees and rebuild slowly starting with a new North Stand and Milton End (possibly with a semi-permanent stand like the ones used at Fulham and Blackpool at least to begin with.

The Future
I was quite unhappy about the takeover and it somehow spoiled the success on the pitch.

I can see the arguments from both sides and in the absence of an alternative viable means of generating enough revenue to sustain the team and the ground, on reflection, it was the only solution for the club. At least the new owners seem a far better bet than some of the rascals that preceded them.

The board have acted swiftly to find a worthy replacement for Paul Cook & Co and I am really looking forward to next season. I hope that they will continue to spend wisely and find some money for a few fresh faces. The playing style will certainly be different and hopefully entertaining.

All fans are positive during the closed season and currently things are looking good. Let’s hope the general optimism is still there at Christmas.

PLAY UP POMPEY!

north stand 
North Stand