Terry Venables once paid £1 for them. Milan Mandaric, Harry Redknapp and his pals took them to an F.A Cup win and the Premier League and they have been down and back since.
Portsmouth is one of those clubs with a handful of iconic gimmicks; a bell ringing, heavily tattooed, semi-naked man being just one. Harry Redknapp and his bizarre transfer dealings is most definitely another, not to mention “That song”. (play-up…..)
Currently, Portsmouth sit in the play-off spots of League One, mixing it with other former high flyers such as Coventry, Sunderland and my team, Ipswich. However, the general feeling is the Pompey stand a very good chance of a successful campaign. Although last night’s game at Coventry didn’t go to plan, Portsmouth are still very much in the race.
But who makes Portsmouth the club it currently is? Well, a surprising look into the ownership reveals “The Tornante Company” who owns the club is the business label of none other than former Disney CEO (and the butt of many Family Guy jokes) Michael Eisner; that is one deep wallet if it is required.
Portsmouth is a club with a fine 121-year history, Champions of England twice (1949 and 1950) and two F.A Cups are the focal points of the trophy cabinet, and those with slightly longer memories will recall a purple patch where the squad boasted internationals from around the globe, Nwankwo Kanu (and his size 15 feet) playing with Nico Kranjcar, Peter Crouch, Jermaine Defoe, David James and Sol Campbell alongside many other big names, kept Portsmouth in the limelight for a while. Those heady days are comfortably in the rearview mirror and a new regime is hoping to reignite the Pompey fire.
With Kenny at the helm, it was a safe bet that Portsmouth would challenge for promotion. An EFL trophy victory took the momentum away last year but Jackett will be hoping to better his team’s 4th position finish from last season. Jackett himself has an impressive CV: notably Wolves, Swansea and Millwall and has gained promotions with all of them,
The Forward Line
Well known goalhanger Brett Pitman (with 41 goals in 99 games) is often among the headlines, although John Marquis (13 in 42) and Ellis Harrison (9 in 31) are currently the very physical front line, Ronan Curtis (23 in 82) also is never far from the thoughts of the Pompey faithful.
The midfield is a perfect template of Jackett’s ethos, a mixture of lower league journeymen, up and coming talent, and a sprinkle of flare. Tom Naylor has been the “CDM” since signing in 2018, a solid performer for Jackett to allow the exciting play of Ryan Williams, Marcus Harness and Andy Cannon to push the opponent onto the back foot.
The Rear Guard
Christian Burgess is a name you may not know, but with 201 games at the back, Burgess has become something of a regular, having seen partners such as Matt Clarke and Adam Webster move away in recent years. Sean Raggett (Lincoln via Norwich) is one option to partner Burgess, on loan from the Canaries, where chances have been limited. The in-flux of German talent forced Raggett to look for regular games, although Jack Whatmough is also vying for games – the academy product nearing 100 games for Pompey. If you are watching Portsmouth shortly though, keep an eye out for Haji Mnoga, the Portsmouth Youth prospect. Having found his way into the reckoning this season, Mnoga has already been mentioned as ‘one to watch’.
June 2018 saw an exodus of players from Shrewsbury, and Craig MacGillivray joined Jackett’s project, challenging, and taking the gloves from Luke McGee for the majority of his tenure. Portsmouth are blessed with three ‘keepers though, highly rated Alex Bass is definitely one to watch too.
Apologies if I have missed your favourite player out, or maybe that’s a good thing? You don’t want everyone knowing your squad is heavy with stars.
Apart from the football being entertaining, quick-paced stuff, Pompey are a proud bunch and are quick to point to their glorious history, and traditions too. The naval history is a big part of the club as well. I must say Fratton Park is one of those grounds you simply have to experience, as is the nightlife, the Spinnaker and the dry-docked submarine – but this isn’t a travel guide.