Doncaster Rovers v Portsmouth: 'It's been terrible and the supporters have turned' - the opposition view

Among the surprises in League One so far this season – and there have been a few already – the struggle of promotion tips Portsmouth is right up there.

Friday, 4th October 2019, 1:00 pm
Portsmouth manager KennyJackett

Kenny Jackett’s side have won just twice in the league so far this season and have looked far from convincing as they bid to go one better than last season’s play-off appearance.

We spoke to the Portsmouth News’ chief sports writer Neil Allen to get the lowdown on what has gone wrong at Fratton Park.

Q: I imagine this has not been the start to the season that was expected for Portsmouth?

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John Marquis

NA: It's been terrible. Performances have been poor, the fans have turned on the manager. It's been awful really.

The turning point was when Pompey were 3-1 up against Coventry. By the end of it the game finished 3-3 and Coventry had nine men.

When Pompey were two up against nine men they brought on a defender to shore it up.

They conceded and the fans turned big time then.

It was a real watershed moment - it could be for the season and it could be for Kenny Jackett's managerial stay. It's been rather fraught since then.

It was an awful performance on Saturday but they won 1-0. It was unconvincing, laboured and awful to watch. The manager said he's there to win games and hopefully they can start on a run. But they're not convincing at all at the moment.

Q: Why have Portsmouth struggled so far and should it be quickly fixable?

NA: There's issues everywhere. Kenny Jackett's had six different centre half pairings in 13 games. John Marquis isn't scoring because he's not getting any chances.

Ronan Curtis has been in really poor form and when he was taken off at the weekend the supporters cheered.

There's so much going on.

Promotion is still the aim. They finished eighth, fourth so the natural progression would be above that and that's the aim.

It's not clicked anywhere near and the fans are losing belief in Jackett by the match.

The position is a little misleading because they've still got three games in hand on some teams. They should have played Bury, then they had a game called off for international call-ups and a game called off because it clashed with a music festival in the city.

Fans don't take that into account but they haven't played well this season and they've been all over the place really.

Q: Is Kenny Jackett under pressure then?

NA: He's under big pressure from supporters but there's no indication from inside the club whatsoever that there will be any change. The club are sticking by him.

The American owner doesn't want to make a change and there's no indication that anything is going to happen.

Off the pitch the fans are on his back and the pressure is piling on there.

Q: How has John Marquis fared since his move to Fratton Park?

NA: I thought he was man of the match at the weekend. He put in a tremendous shift.

He's got excellent work rate as everyone up there will know but he's not getting any service. There's nothing coming in for him to feed off.

He's got two goals, one a penalty, but he's been starved of chances and I really feel for him.

He's getting on with it. He's a real team player. In the last game, Jackett went 4-4-2 with Brett Pitman alongside him and he did a lot of Pitman's running, trying to create as well.

Q: And Paul Downing?

NA: He was dropped from the squad for the last game. Jackett has struggled to find a centre back pairing and he even resorted to playing a centre forward at centre half – Oli Hawkins, who did well but then got injured against Southampton.

Downing did okay but hasn't been in the squad because Jackett’s wanted an attacking bench.

He was a regular before then, doing okay but he's another one that it's not quite happened for yet.

Q: What is Jackett's favoured system and style of play?

NA: He went to 4-4-2 in the last game. Pitman has been a number ten, in behind but Jackett pushed him up alongside Marquis in the last game.

It’s looking like that is the way at the moment and I think that'll be the case against Doncaster.

Q: Who are the danger men?

NA: Marcus Harness has probably been the best summer signing. He came in for about £900,000 from Burton. He was out five matches with injury but he came back as sub last game and did really well.

He's got three goals from the wing. He's bright, he's skillful, he runs at players, he scores goals and he gets assists.

I'm sure he'll start against Doncaster.