Pompey Predictions: Jordan Cross’ view

Gary Roberts is yet to hit top form for Pompey because of injury Picture: Joe Pepler
Gary Roberts is yet to hit top form for Pompey because of injury Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey's Brett Pitman scores a penalty in the Blues' 1-1 draw against Walsall at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South.

Picture gallery: Pompey 1 Walsall 1

1
Have your say

At the start of 2016, The News’ sports writers have gazed into their crystal balls to see what lies ahead for Pompey over the second half of the season.

Jordan Cross kicks us off with his Blues predictions for the rest of the campaign.

I’ll never forget Peter Storrie tipping Collins Mbesuma to be the new Yakubu.

The thought Pompey may have to settle for a place in the play-offs has been aired in recent days.

It’s come up quite a bit in conversation, and is a sentiment getting more air time on social media.

It genuinely hasn’t crossed my mind.

In a fantasy, ideal world, a guarantee of promotion through the play-offs would be lovely.

A nice sunny afternoon at the home of football with a celebration to come at the end of it. Who wouldn’t enjoy a Wembley day out?

Sadly, we don’t live in a world of certainties.

Not that it matters anyway, because this team is going up automatically.

Making pre-season predictions can have a habit of coming back to bite you on the backside.

I’ll never forget Peter Storrie tipping Collins Mbesuma to be the new Yakubu.

Then there was Cameroon ‘speedster’ Roudolphe Douala who was going to ‘tear up’ the Premier League.

Yes, it doesn’t always work out quite how you picture it.

In last summer’s Pompey Magazine, I predicted it would be third time lucky in the bid to get out of League Two. I’m still confident I’ve got that one right.

After crossing the halfway point of the season, what we’ve witnessed has only hardened my opinion it will be the case.

The fact Paul Cook would establish a strong identity and impress a clear footballing philosophy on his team was one of the reasons for my confidence.

In 25 league and five cup fixtures, that has been borne out.

Pompey have been a work in progress and are a completely new side so, naturally, there’s been a few blips along the way.

But Cook’s vow to dominate possession, press high up the pitch, employ attacking full-backs and create plenty of chances has not been empty rhetoric.

Yes, he has been backed well as, he himself acknowledges. Pompey’s budget is a healthy one by League Two standards.

But no-one has been able to dominate the side to date, including the three defeats against Exeter, Notts County and Leyton Orient.

Brian Murphy must still prove himself as the right No1. Two clean sheets in the past two games isn’t a bad way of doing that, though.

And five 0-0 home draws have been a black mark.

There is a conviction, though, this team now has the fire-power to hurt rivals.

Marc McNulty and Caolan Lavery’s additions have been key to that.

Then there’s Gary Roberts, who has still to hit his top form because of injury.

The feeling is the best is yet to come from this Pompey side.

Cook is adamant he wouldn’t swap this squad with any of his rivals. Quite right, too.

There is the talent and time to bridge a four-gap point to the top three and, indeed, the eight points to leaders Plymouth.

Final Pompey position: 2nd

League Two’s top three: Plymouth, Pompey and Oxford

Play-off spots: Northampton, Wycombe, Accrington and Leyton Orient

Relegated: Dagenham & Redbridge and York

Pompey player of the year: Ben Davies

Pompey’s top-scorer: Marc McNulty