Time to go all in?

Published: 30/05/2023

Portsmouth Football Club are approaching their 7th season in League One. Whilst no club has a divine right to be in any league, it’s easy to get disheartened following a club with league titles, FA Cups, regular attendances over 18,000 play mediocre football in the third tier. Seeing empty seats at Wembley yesterday as Sheffield Wednesday edged out Barnsley in the Play-Off final just made me feel worse.

There are, however, several reasons to be positive about the coming season and I believe that now is the time we’ll see Pompey take a few risks on the pitch and really go for promotion. I wanted to take this opportunity to talk through them: 


League One 

This is, to be frank, the weakest League One has been since Pompey’s promotion in 2017. With the greatest of respect to all clubs in this division, there isn’t one that makes you think “wow, why are they here?”

Sunderland, Blackburn Rovers, Ipswich Town, Sheffield Wednesday & Hull City have all been in League One recently, as well as Premier League new-boys Luton Town. We just don’t have a team this season that you think would be title-favourites. 

Wigan and Reading would, out of context, look like major threats however both have been relegated with huge financial problems. Wigan will be starting the season on negative points, and Reading won’t be far behind at this rate. Blackpool, the other team relegated from the Championship, have never had huge finances either. 

Barnsley, Bolton, Peterborough, Charlton and Derby will all be competing for spots in the top 6, but I’d put Pompey right up alongside them, particularly with a good summer window. But why would this window be any different? Well… 



I believe Tornante finally have the staff in place that they wholly trust to run all aspects of Portsmouth Football Club. It seems to me that the structure is there that they’ve been seeking for a while, certainly since the departure of Kenny Jackett. 

Consider this. When Jackett departed after the defeat to Salford in the Pizza Cup, Danny Cowley and his brother were placed in charge on a deal until the end of the season. It was ultimately extended despite missing out on the Play-Offs, but that original deal was a very temporary one. 

Upon Cowley’s dismissal earlier this season, John Mousinho was recruited on a “long term” deal. Far beyond the end of the season, you’re our man. 

Couple this with the appointment of Richard Hughes as Director of FootballSporting Directoralings he’s been involved with since he joined, and the reshaping of the Academy staff, I believe the football operations are exactly where the ownership want them to be. 

It’s not just the football side of the club that’s seen major change. Obviously Andy Cullen is approaching his third season as CEO, but this season also saw the departure of Commercial Director, Anna Mitchell. Her role at the club was then split into different areas, with people like Mark Judges (formerly of Sussex Cricket) being recruited as Director of Sales. Slowly but surely, we’re seeing new people in all areas of the business. 


The Team 

Both Andrew Cullen and Rich Hughes have been saying that the transfer strategy at Portsmouth needed change. We needed to focus on younger talent that we could develop into full assets, rather than relying on the loan market. Players like Ryley Towler, Zak Swanson, Denver Hume and Paddy Lane have all been purchased with transfer fees, some of whom have gone on to become first-team regulars. 

Arguably, the squad as it is doesn’t need a huge overhaul. The core is relatively strong, certainly stronger than it’s been heading into previous seasons. 

Colby Bishop, Reeco Hackett, Denver Hume, Paddy Lane, Tom Lowery, Haji Mnoga, Joe Morrell, Marlon Pack, Joe Rafferty, Sean Raggett, Toby Steward, Zak Swanson, Ryley Towler, Connor Ogilvie, Josh Oluwayemi, Harry Jewitt-White. and Liam Vincent are all under contract. In addition, the club are negotiating with Jay Mingi and Ronan Curtis. 

In that group you have a striker that scored over 20 goals, young players that have already grown into solid first-team players, full internationals, and some solid squad depth in certain areas. 

Yes, it needs improving and there are positions that we are worryingly light in, but it’s fair to be confident that the recruitment staff will get it right this summer. And there’s no need to panic if all the business isn’t done early, let’s not forget Colby Bishop didn’t arrive until very late in July! 


There is a chance that I’m becoming like the Liverpool fans of old. “This year is our year! Oh wait… NEXT YEAR IS OUR YEAR!” 

But I can’t help feeling optimistic for the coming season. It really does feel, for now at least, that the stars are aligning and we could be in for a good season. Couple all the above with the fact that most of the urgent Fratton Park work has now been completed, it could be that we now get signficant investment on the pitch to get us to promotion. 

Chances are I’m way off and it’s another 8th place finish for us. Up the Blues.