Big Interview: Jed Wallace
You can tell from his actions on the pitch '“ Jed Wallace is a winner.
The energy spent, the ground covered, the joy of a goal or assist, the obvious frustration when something doesn’t come off, it’s there for all to see.
Is it any wonder the Pompey youth product reluctantly decided to pack his bags after the Blues’ lowest-ever league finish last term.
There was no clear indication his cravings for victories and success was going to reach a satisfactory conclusion at the pace he so desperately wanted.
After all, a look over the record books for his three seasons at Pompey made for painful reading.
Wallace, who arrived from non-league Whitehawk in 2011, amassed only 35 wins from the 121 appearances he made since making his debut against Plymouth Argyle in the 2012-13 Capital One Cup.
That represents a win percentage of just 29 per cent, with the 47 losses endured accounting for 39 per cent of those games played.
Talk of a new era, improved investment in the squad under another manager, Paul Cook, and a concerted promotion push, just wasn’t enough.
The scars of those three seasons had taken its toll.
The attacking midfielder, understandably, needed a different platform to satisfy his desire to win.
Wallace will be the first to admit his subsequent summer move to Championship side Wolves for a substantial six-figure sum has not yet worked out as planned.
But a loan move to League One promotion-chasers Millwall in January has reinvigorated him.
And the south London side are finally providing him with the one thing he wants more than anything else from the game – victories.
‘I had to leave Portsmouth,’ admitted Wallace.
‘I would have stayed if we’d got promoted – that’s a fact. I would have stayed. But I had to go.
‘Obviously, Wolves hasn’t gone according to plan with injuries and when I’ve played I haven’t been good enough.
‘But if I had stayed at Pompey and broken my leg in the first game of the season, I’d be in the same boat as what Jack Whatmough was in, playing for Havant on loan to get my fitness.
‘It was a risk I was never going to take and I fully back myself to play at the level Wolves are at.
‘Eventually, that’s my target.
‘Until then, though, I’m enjoying my time at Millwall – it’s a similar crowd to Portsmouth.
‘The fans expect you to run around, which is my game anyway – I give everything I’ve got – so I’m really enjoying it here.
‘I’m playing well, I’m working hard up the pitch and getting the front boys as many chances as I can.
‘At Portsmouth, without beating about the bush, I was in a poor team for two years, not winning.
‘So to come here now and be in a team that’s winning every week is great.
‘I’m really enjoying being in a winning team.
‘I think we’ve won six out of nine since I’ve come.
‘So, for me, it’s the first time really I’ve been in a team that I’m looking at and thinking, there’s a winning mentality here and it’s good.’
Wallace’s arrival at The Den on a 93-day loan has certainly aided Millwall’s desire to return to the Championship.
Before the move was sealed, Neil Harris’ side had suffered six defeats in nine outings.
Their record currently reads eight wins from 13 games – with only one defeat in 10 – with Wallace contributing some vital assists in that run.
Goals, however, have been harder to come by for the attacking midfielder, who scored 17 for Pompey last season and 30 in total during his time at Fratton Park.
He only netted his first of the season in the Lions’ 3-0 win over Blackpool at the weekend.
Not that it’s getting him down.
‘My goalscoring record has gone,’ he joked.
‘I was a one-in-three man before I came here, now I’ve blown up, I can’t hit a barn door!
‘Last season at Portsmouth I was like a goal machine, shooting from left, right and centre, it was unbelievable.
‘It’s funny, as I couldn’t cross a road at Portsmouth.
‘So I’ve sort of switched it up, now my crossing is good.
‘I thought it would be something I’d be bothered about on a personal note because that’s always been my game.
‘But since I’ve come here, I’ve just wanted to do well for the team.
‘I don’t really care who scores or who assists.
‘I’m just really enjoying being in a winning team.’
If Wallace had remained at Fratton Park this season, he would also have been part of a side holding out for promotion.
Pompey’s revamped squad under Cook are right in the hunt to go up to League One, despite a recent blip in form.
And last term’s player of the season believes it’s only right the Blues are showing their worth at the top end of the table after so much hurt in recent years.
Wallace said: ‘They have to be thinking of promotion, no qualms about it.
‘It’s a big club with good players.
‘I’ve been to four or five games this year and you watch them and they’re so good – especially in the bigger games.
‘There’s a lot of good players there now and I think they will be fine.
‘It’s incomparable to last year, the squad is incomparable. You look at the bench, with the likes of Conor Chaplin and Adam McGurk on it.
‘You look at the bench last year, no disrespect, but the strength in depth is massive now.
‘Matt Tubbs is now out on loan, Jack Whatmough was on loan – I know he’s been injured, but still.
‘They were really the mainstay of our team, along with Paul Robinson and James Dunne, who are now gone, too.
‘That’s a sign of the strength and depth at Pompey now.
‘It’s all set to go, with the fan base, the chairman, the board and the manager.
‘It’s all set to go and I personally believe the big players there like Kyle Bennett and Gary Roberts, when it comes to it, have been there and done it, and they will step up.
‘If they get to Wembley, these boys will step up.
‘The likes of your Bennetts and Roberts are better players than what you get at that level, so when it comes to it I think they will be fine.’
Wallace added Pompey’s result remains one he looks out for, despite his new-found loyalties.
He said: ‘I still follow them massively. It’s still my club and I look out for them.
‘I’ll be a Portsmouth fan for the rest of my life.
‘They’re the first result I look out for. Obviously, them and Wolves.
‘I’ve also still got a few pals there.
‘Some of them may have found themselves in the freezer, frozen out there a little bit.
‘But, to be fair, everyone I’ve spoken to has been totally impressed by Paul Cook – even the boys who have not been playing as much.
‘That’s when you know someone’s good – when those who are not playing are still happy with the manager.’
JED WALLACE ON...
...HIS WOLVES SWITCH
Wolves has been frustrating for me but I don’t think it’s a closed door.
I still think I’ll have an effect there.
Down the line, in six, 12, 18 months, I’d still like to do that that.
The move to Millwall has helped bridge that gap from a poor Pompey team last season to a Championship club.
... LOAN MOVE TO MILLWALL
I grew up playing at Portsmouth, where every week I’m playing in front of top fans – it’s big pressure which I enjoy.
The last thing I wanted to do was go somewhere where you don’t have that.
You definitely have that edge here, every home game. And that’s what you want to do, play in front of big crowds.
...FORMER POMPEY BOSS AWFORD’S FRATTON PARK DEPARTURE
I understood the decision to get rid of Andy.
That’s part and parcel of football, I’m afraid.
I’m sure Awfs will tell you he would want to have done things differently.
Me and Awfs are still friends now – we still talk quite regularly on the phone.
But there were big expectations at Pompey when he was in charge, like there is here.
Our home form at Millwall hasn’t been great.
But at the better clubs, home form is difficult because, as we know, teams come to the likes of Fratton Park and play their heart out.
So it makes it difficult.