Will Whittingham’s super-size-me policy pay off?

Pompey wasted no time bringing in keeper John Sullivan after Simon Eastwood joined Blackburn
Pompey wasted no time bringing in keeper John Sullivan after Simon Eastwood joined Blackburn
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It’s like a crash diet in reverse.

Guy Whittingham has got Pompey on a get-bloated-quick scheme as he manically goes about his transfer business this summer.

The thing about these wonder diets, of course, is they rarely work in the long term. It remains to be seen if Whittingham’s super-size-me-fast policy will reap dividends in League Two, however.

The Blues manager has set the target of having his transfer business conducted by the time he heads off on a short break at the end of this week.

To tie up deals for 11 players already – seven who are new faces – is hugely-impressive work.

But the avenues of transfer negotiation are rarely travelled along without encountering a few bumpy moments and dead ends.

That was seen when Simon Eastwood walked away from Pompey last week, when on the brink of signing a three-year deal.

Eastwood, it seems, would prefer sitting on the bench at Ewood Park behind Paul Robinson over the challenge of helping Pompey re-establish themselves as their first-choice keeper.

York’s Matty Blair was a player who physio Steve Allen had invested plenty of time in trying to land.

It looked as if that pursuit was going to reap dividends, too, with talks progressing well with the York winger.

In the end, the out-of-contract player opted for League Two rivals Fleetwood, with Pompey sticking staunchly to their transfer budgets.

The Blues aren’t going to be breaking the bank for any player next season, with everyone falling into their first-team budget of around £1.2m.

The speed in which Pompey moved to replace Eastwood with John Sullivan offers an insight into the range of preparatory work put in by the management team when it comes to targets.

They are going to have to move at a lightning rate if they are to wrap up the final signings in the next few days, though.

Whittingham has made little secret of the fact he is working on a squad size of 18 to 20 players for the new campaign.

With the three young players already contracted for next season – Jed Wallace, Ashley Harris and Adam Webster – that leaves spots for a minimum of four recruits.

David Connolly and Johnny Ertl are priorities for two of the positions. Although, with the captain weighing up his future while on a backpacking stint around the Philippines, it will be a test to tie up his deal quickly.

It’s unclear what the future holds for the likes of Ricardo Rocha, Liam Walker and Sam Sodje at this stage. However, the fact deals have not been wrapped up for them suggests they are back-ups rather than priorities.

Pompey’s current policy is a far cry to years gone by.

Harry Redknapp signing Paul Merson 24 hours before the start of that title-winning 2002-03 campaign springs to mind.

Steve Cotterill going into meltdown and seething at then-chief executive David Lampitt’s perceived inadequacies as Pompey’s squad of teenagers traversed around North America is another stand-out.

Whittingham is planning on being able to concentrate on fashioning a group of players into a team by the time he reaches that pre-season juncture.

If he’s truly able to do that with his squad formed, it will be another Pompey first.