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Quick(ish) pre-Pompey thoughts

OK, I wasn’t going to do an update today (at Bournemouth tomorrow for a sodding 1215 kickoff then Wembley for the JPT final on Sunday), but a couple of quickies – partly motivated by a couple of comments from the Mansfield debacle.

The big news this week – if you can call it big – is Dave Winfield returning to York. So much for extending the loan by another month then.

This won’t exactly be cause for mass weeping and the odd suicide, to be honest. Lest we forget that he came in because of Phillips and his Burton dismissal, and I’m not sure if we need him now.

Having finally seen the Mansfield second goal again, you have to forward to the 55th second or so to see just how bad his clearance was on Tuesday.

NA was keen on landing him, so maybe that will put him off a permanent deal?

We have the returning Goodman, and these remaining games should be ones for Phillips to prove he should be here next campaign. There’s going to be at least two new faces in that position by the time pre-season comes, so he can’t complain he won’t get a chance.

Come to think of it, we’ve been unlucky with centre-backs this season : Winfield came and went, Phillips has still failed to get going, Framps retired, Benno went back to Cork, Barrett went to Southend and neither Deji or Goodman are ours.

Not to mention Will Nightingale disappearing off with injury almost as soon as he arrived in the first team.

Even so, our goals against column isn’t too bad, and with the exception of the 4-1 gubbing in South Wales, we haven’t had too many heavy defeats.

So, watch Tubbs score a hat-trick tomorrow then.

There were a couple of comments on the, er, comments section of the Mansfield game that caught my eye, hence this rather disjointed quick (?) update.

It does seem that this season will fizzle out to an underwhelming anti-climax, if the SW19 readership is anything to go by. Considering that we have nine games left, including Easter, it could be a shitty end to a campaign that had glimpses of promise.

There are two schools of thought here, although neither of them are mutually exclusive : firstly, we should have done better than we have.

Failing to replace Tubbs was one thing, replacing him with Tanner effectively waved the white flag on the current campaign. This team was good enough to at least nip at the heels of the playoffs, and it all seems a rather meek surrender.

On the flip side, this season was the consolidation period we’ve so needed for a long time. Finally, we look like we belong in this division, at least on it.

There are some (many?) areas that the club needs to shake off its tinpot, amateurish mentality, but it’s taken us four years of some very painful lessons to even get this far.

We are mid-table, we aren’t going down, and we do have some promising youngsters who are starting to make a real difference to the first team.

Who’s right? Both sides are.

Yes, with a forward like of Akinfenwa and Tubbs for a large part of the season, we should have been higher. Although it has to be said, there were times early on this campaign where we were as bad as we were against the Stags.

But as one comment this morning put it, next season is the crunch one in many ways.

There’s NPL – if we get the result on that we all want this summer, it will change the dynamic of the club forever. Not only off the field, where certain realities will need to be faced by certain factions, but on it too.

Would simply aiming for 16th be enough any more? How long can you placate an undeniably ambitious fanbase who sees being mid-table as a process rather than an end result?

Come to think of it, haven’t we sort of reached that stage already?

We can get away with holding fire, keeping the Liverpool money until this campaign ends, but there will need to be some ambiton next season shown (especially if NPL gets the go-ahead and everyone will be like a dog with two dicks).

Otherwise, people will just get bored with the same old, same old. And once they find other things to do on a Saturday…

Will we go that next step with NA? To be honest, I’m not sure – if pushed, I would say probably not. His tenure suits the club as it wants to be right now, namely stuck in the purgatory section of League Two.

But next year will be his third full season with us, although it’s nearer three-and-a-half. And while he’s undoubtedly made progress this season – will it be enough?

Not only for paying matchgoers, but NA himself. The average span of any managerial tenure is about that length, and if a decent sized L1 side comes calling in the summer, his head could get turned.

You wouldn’t blame him if it was, as TB found out you just need one poor pre-season and it can finish you off. You would assume he will get more money to spend in the summer, but it will be interesting if he doesn’t.

So as we go into Pompey tomorrow, we stand in the face of some very weird holding pattern, both on the field and off it. We run the very real risk of three defeats in a week, and even in a period of safety, that’s not going to quench dissent.

Nor should it. The rest of 2014/15 may now be a write-off, but there still has to be some enjoyment remaining before the summer.

If there is any sense, this remaining period should be used to build up for 2015/16. That may mean giving some youngsters more gametime. It might mean even giving players like Azeez more of a role.

Anything to give people a bit more encouragement for renewing their season tickets next season. After all, it’s not too long before the renewals come through…