10 Down, 36 To Go! The Season So Far

Published: 07/10/2022

By Sidney Wise. Photo by Sam Ball. 

Ten games in and Portsmouth have made a very strong start to this year’s campaign. The Blues sit fourth in the table on 21 points, with a game in hand on the other teams near the top.

Frustratingly, Pompey’s unbeaten run came to an end last Saturday against Ipswich, but this should not take away from the impressive start to the season. The fact that we were able to remain unbeaten for nine games when we had faced the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Peterborough and Plymouth is a great achievement and something that arguably would not have been possible over the last few seasons.

This current team is already a notable improvement on the squads we have seen before at this level. The Cowleys have been able to transform the club’s relationship with the fans, which had been left on its knees following the departure of Kenny Jackett, and they have built a squad that looks more than capable of fighting for promotion.

Cowley has previously admitted that the way the squad are currently preforming is better than even he anticipated, but how have Pompey done it?


New Signings

Danny Cowley has always been adamant that the players he recruits to play for Pompey must have the right mentality and quality to turn out for a passionate fanbase and a club that needs to be chasing promotion in the upper echelons of the table.

The signings that have been made this year seem to fit that remit and recruitment has been admirable. Each player is tailor made to the football that Cowley wants us to play. Look at the likes of Marlon Pack and Tom Lowery in our midfield, Colby Bishop in the attack and Joe Rafferty in the defence. All these players are a significant upgrade on what Pompey have had previously, and you could easily make the argument that they belong at Championship level.

The loan market has been used to full effect this summer. The club’s relationship with the loan system in recent years has not always been the best, for every Ben Thompson there was an Omar Bogle and for every George Hirst there was a Gassan Ahadme. Now look at the squad this year, Danny Cowley this summer claimed that loan signings should be ‘the icing and cherry on the cake.’ The likes of Dane Scarlett, Owen Dale and Josh Koroma certainly fit the bill and again, they look a level above League One.

This sentiment has been echoed by Michael Jacobs who in an interview with the News described how ‘everyone can see the recruitment has been really good, we’ve signed some really good players and got a real good mix.’ This has certainly been evident on the pitch in the first ten games.


Style of Play

This season is the most exciting a Pompey squad has been to watch for a good few years now.

Contrast the dull, uninspiring football that we saw under Kenny Jackett with what we are seeing this season under Danny Cowley. A thoroughly entertaining, high pressing style of play where we look like we are capable of scoring every time we venture forward.

The pace of players like Dale and Koroma on the wings is an absolute nightmare for opposition defenders, especially when we attack on the counter. So too is the pace and strength of Dane Scarlett and all this combined with Colby Bishop’s ability to hold the ball up and spread the play makes us an incredibly dangerous side to face, highlighted by the fact that we are currently the third top goalscorers in League One.



One of the most important aspects of a promotion winning team that Pompey have sorely lacked over our six-year stay in England’s third tier is a fighting spirit that allows us to retaliate against teams, especially those higher up the table. How many times previously have the Blues wilted when faced with a setback in games against the top teams in the division? Just look at last year with the 4-1 defeat away at Rotherham, the 4-0 defeat at home to Ipswich and the 4-1 defeat away at Sheffield Wednesday.

There were signs that Pompey were becoming more resilient towards the end of last season with the 3-0 success over Rotherham and the enthralling comeback victory over eventual champions Wigan. However, whether we would carry that form into this season was the big question.

We needn’t have worried. In the first game of the season up at Hillsborough when Wednesday struck first, it was feared we would most likely leave Sheffield empty handed. But that was not the case. Pompey drew 3-3 showcasing a fighting spirit that just has not been there on many occasions previously. That fighting spirit was apparent in our other games against the top sides as we came from behind to beat Peterborough and grabbed a stoppage time equaliser against Plymouth. It could also be seen in the defeat to Ipswich having come from behind twice, albeit we couldn’t hold on to a point.

Joe Morrell’s comments have reflected this as he has claimed that ‘the squad here is strong – not just in terms of quality, but also personality and experience.’

There is a lot to like about what we have seen from this Pompey team in the first ten games. Yes it’s early days, but this side does have a different feel to it than in previous years. There is room for improvement of course, whilst the fightback against Plymouth was impressive, we should never have let the game get to that stage as we had more than enough chances to kill the game off in the first half.

We also should never have let our concentration drop against Ipswich in conceding that winning goal not even a minute after we had equalised through our second penalty of the game, if we are to get promoted, we must see games like that out.

Regardless, the start to the season has been strong and this year there is more faith that the squad will not let their heads drop off the back of that Ipswich defeat. There is a good opportunity to bounce back against Fleetwood at Fratton Park and there is no reason why Saturday cannot be the start of another unbeaten run.