Form shows where Pompey's season of change is going
Win, loss, win, loss, draw, draw.
In a results business, the evidence will always lie on the pitch. And Pompey’s form tells the tale of where the season’s headed.
After eight games, Shrewsbury set a confounding pace three points clear at the head of the League One table.
Pre-season favourites for the title, Blackburn, loiter in mid-table after an inauspicious opening. Meanwhile, the Blues’ old sparring partners Plymouth languish a place off the foot of the table.
But who looks at the table at this time of year? Don’t we usually start weighing these things up at Christmas?
Well, yes, we do. The old truisms of football continue to stand strong. The game changes, but the beauty of our business is its basic tenets will always remain the same.
The fluctuating results we are seeing from Kenny Jackett’s men, however, perfectly reflect where things currently stand for the Blues - and where things are headed.
The evolution not revolution rhetoric forwarded on Jackett’s arrival at the start of June seems a long way off now.
Again on Saturday, Christian Burgess and Matt Clarke were the only starting mainstays involved from last season. Again, not a single member of the first XI was above the age of 30.
Last season’s squad had six players north of that figure. Now there’s one in Drew Talbot.
The average age of the team against Fleetwood was 23. On that final day of glory against Cheltenham in May it was 28 and included players aged 37 (David Forde), 35 (Michael Doyle) and 34 (Carl Baker).
Jackett has remained unapologetic about the transition.
‘I felt that the side which got promotion was a slightly older team and needed changing,’ he said.
‘I didn’t feel the side that went up from League Two would have similar success in League One. This has all been done with an eye to the future – both short and long-term.’
Meanwhile, mainstays of that success currently find themselves on the fringes.
Kal Naismith, undoubtedly a jewel in the crown of the title win, hasn’t started the past five games. Kyle Bennett hasn’t made the starting XI in the past four fixtures.
Meanwhile, Danny Rose hasn’t made a squad since the 1-1 draw at Wigan, missing four games. Gareth Evans was out of the 18 for two fixtures after his one-game ban against Rotherham.
Such upheaval nearly always takes place when there’s a managerial switch, so there’s little to be surprised about. But the shift is a change from the advertised programme.
The rub, however, is that we can expect the kind of volatility in performance we’ve witnessed over the previous six league outings.
And that means Pompey fans will travel 250 miles to North Lincolnshire this weekend not quite knowing what to expect against Scunthorpe.
Blues followers, of course, are used to having drama peppering their seasons in one form or another. If it’s not on the pitch, there’s been a cause to fight for off it.
With the club now in safe hands we aren’t anticipating anything too tumultuous behind the scenes anytime soon.
And on the grass, the pre-season suspicion a meandering campaign lies ahead for those supporters who’ve become accustomed to a white-knuckle ride has proved well-founded.
After 10 games, the record reads three wins, three draws and four defeats. A spread of results indicative of where things are at.
If there’s a sniff of a play-off place with 10 games to go, it would keep a season of realignment going.
This time, though, you get the feeling that’s as exciting as it’s going to get.