League One leaders Portsmouth wary of recent blip - Interview
Friday, 25th Jan 2019 16:54 by Clive Whittingham
Portsmouth lead the League One way at the halfway stage but a couple of quickfire defeats hasn't been ideal preparation for this week's FA Cup Fourth Round - Fratton Park regular Wayne Harris tells LFW.
Since we were last together in the league you’ve been all the way down to the bottom and halfway back again, how has the club recovered from the state it was in when we last met?
Seven games without a win vs the hoops. I think the last time we beat you was Bank Holiday Monday August '98. Well it's been a rollercoaster for sure. Successive relegations. Twenty three games without a win during the 12/13 season in League One. Managers such as Michael Appleton, Andy Awford, Guy Whittingham, Richie Barker and Paul Cook have come and gone. Most importantly in 2015 our debts were finally wiped off with thanks to the Portsmouth Supporters Trust which owned the club before our current US team took the reins in pre-season 2017. It was considered a minor miracle we didn't fold. First Premier League club to enter administration. Maybe not the last.
Having gone through a catalogue of disastrous ownership, and then recovered under supporter ownership, it seemed a bit of a shame from the outside to then sell to Michael Eisner – what’s he brought to the table, how’s it going?
Tornante, the firm fronted by Michael Eisner, have brought stability to our club. The infrastructure is looking great. It's a long-term plan they are in the process of. No massive spending as yet as far as player purchases are concerned but behind the scenes they have improved things tenfold. PO4 is a great place to be right now.
A couple of quick defeats in the last two games, any particular reasons behind that? Anybody panicking?
Top of the league at present but successive defeats for the first time this season has meant the lead has been shortened to one point by Luton Town. Reasons? Hmmm, injuries (Oliver Hawkins, Nathan Thompson), loan players returning to parent clubs (Ben Thompson to Millwall, Andre Green to Aston Villa) and key players below par in 2019 (Ronan Curtis, Jamal Lowe, Gareth Evans). Second time around in a season the opposition can work you out but I guess that works both ways eh?
What’s the general consensus on Kenny Jackett? Very well regarded down at QPR after his spell with us.
KJ also held in high esteem here too. We're top of the league right. He comes across very well in his post and pre-match interviews. No front or pretence. No excuses. Tells it how it is. Very dedicated to his role here and he wants another promotion to add to his impressive portfolio.
Any thoughts on David Wheeler? Appreciate he didn’t play much for you…
Wheeler like Andre Green has found it difficult to break into the team basically due to the overall form of Lowe and Curtis who have arguably been our two best players this season. He's scored in the cup competitions but when called upon as a sub in the league hasn't brought much to the table unfortunately.
Quite a lot of rumours around incomings and outgoings in January – what business are you anticipating before the window closes?
Fans demand a striker. Scott Hogan and David Nugent links have both been quickly quashed. However, we play a one striker system every week (4-2-3-1) so Kenny is clearly more interested in bringing in attacking midfield or wide players rather than more forwards.
Stand out players and weak links in the side?
As an 11 we've been very impressive and coherent apart from this month. We’ve been top since September. Like I say Lowe and Curtis are the key men. Matthew Clarke is the best centre back in the league without a doubt. Decent keeper, Craig MacGillivray, with several clean sheets. Weak links? Perhaps Anton Walkes our second choice right back. Brett Pitman top scorer last season with 26 has had a disappointing season in my opinion by his standards – five goals in six starts and 14 sub appearances in the league.
Do you expect to see the promotion through this season?
Yes as a whole it's the old cliché POMPEY EXPECTS. To be fair many fans will be very dissatisfied if we screw this one up whether it's auto or play off. We are capable for sure. Just need to end this blip.
The Twitter @loftforwords, @wayneharrispfc
Pictures – Action Images
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