What’s a fair expectation for the season ahead?

Published: 04/08/2023

Pompey, as we all know, are heading into their 7th season in the third tier of English Football as we approach opening day of 2023/2024. Senior members of the Tornante Group, including Michael and Eric Eisner, will be in attendance as the Blues start their 7th attempt at promotion, hosting Bristol Rovers at Fratton Park. It feels somewhat like a kid on Christmas Eve, eagerly anticipating the unknown to come, hoping that our prayers have been answered and we’re finally going to get what we’ve been wanting for so long. Could this be the year? The other question is, what is a fair expectation of our boys in blue?




It really is that simple.


Would it be appropriate to end this article here? Probably not, but the simple matter is that promotion has to be the target for this season, as it should have been for every season in League One that has come before it. If you’re not aiming to win in professional sport, then what’s the point?


But let’s dig a little deeper into why so many of the Fratton Faithful are a little more positive, a little more excited, and a little more expectant for this season in particular.


Firstly, let’s look at ourselves.


For the first time since the arrival of the Tornante Group, it finally feels like the Football Department is where they wanted it to be. A structure that represents modern sport, and particularly modern football. A Sporting Director that was coveted over a 6-month period, Rich Hughes has managed to implement the transfer policy that we’ve been told about for years. Developing our own players, rather than relying on the loan market, developing them into assets that will help shape the future of the club both on the pitch and financially. At the time of writing, only one of Pompey’s 12 summer signings has been a loan.


Speaking of summer signings, some of the arrivals through the door in PO4 have been fantastic for a League One club. Regan Poole was fully expected to be a Championship player this season, and he chose to don the famous blue and white. Promising, young players with heaps of experience already like Jack Sparkes and Anthony Scully, as well as relatively unknown entities hungry to prove themselves at a new level like Kusini Yengi and Terry Devlin. It’s been the type of transfer window we’ve wanted for a long time, and we’ve finally got it. Couple that with the spine of players already here like Ryley Towler, Zak Swanson, Tom Lowery, Colby Bishop, Marlon Pack and several others, this feels like a squad capable of putting a run together.



For the final piece of looking in the mirror, let’s look at our Head Coach. John Mousinho was by no means the first name in everyone’s mind after Danny Cowley’s departure last season, and the young coach still has some teething problems to deal with (for example, the managing of the media and realizing that a quote taken out of context during a Fan Forum will be used on Pompey Facebook to murder you.)


But we’re talking about a man that has shown leadership throughout his career. You don’t get elected Chairman of the PFA without having a bit about you, and demanding the respect of professional footballers.


I’m not going to talk about his tactics, because there are better men than me that can dive into that (see Hancock Analysis by clicking here). Ultimately time will tell with Mousinho, but everything I’ve seen thus far gives me confidence in the man, and I will fully back him this season to get us promoted. And I’m not alone, because clearly the Eisners have backed him too.


As for the rest of the League One landscape, I’ve been guilty myself of labelling this season the weakest League One since our promotion (most recently on the Football Hour) but you can’t help but look at the teams remaining and this it’s a great chance for us. No Sunderland, no Ipswich Town, no Blackburn Rovers, no Sheffield Wednesday, no Hull City. Of the teams that got relegated, Wigan will be starting on minus points following more financial uncertainty and have had players walk out on their contracts (like our own Jack Whatmough). Reading have their own financial troubles and are in the midst of an ownership crisis. Blackpool have never been particularly cash-rich and have had a distinctly average transfer window thus far.


I’m not saying there aren’t good teams left in the division. Derby County are the favourites for the title, with Barnsley, Bolton and Peterborough all ranking higher on the bookies’ list than our beloved Pompey. Charlton, Reading and Blackpool are likely to be chasing the play-offs too, and we all know there will be a surprise team in there too.


It’s by no means going to be an easy season. But there absolutely is cause for optimism around Fratton Park, and I think it’s completely fair to expect promotion from the Blues. Whether that comes in the form of a play-off win, automatic promotion or even an unlikely title win, why would we want to settle for anything less than promotion?


7 seasons is plenty, thank you.