Pompey pre-season predictions make for interesting reading
Hello. My name is Ben Sturt, I am 17 years old and have been a season-ticket holder in the Fratton End for more than a decade.
In this column, I discuss the key talking points at Pompey – from the perspective of a younger supporter...
Before the start of the season I made a prediction in this column as to which teams would finish in the top seven and who would be relegated.
Now we are at the halfway stage of the 2016-17 campaign, I am revisiting my prediction – and thankfully it is not as bad as I thought.
Back in August, I predicted Wycombe would win the league, with Pompey and Cambridge United in second and third.
I said that Doncaster, Luton, Notts County and Exeter City would occupy the play-off places.
And I claimed that Barnet and Morecambe would not beat the drop.
Predictions are interesting because despite being left red-faced, they can indicate the general consensus as to who is going to fare well and who not so much.
Probably my biggest mistake was to exclude Plymouth from the play-off contingent.
But considering the high turnover of players at Home Park, especially the loss of key team members, it has come as a shock to see them doing so well.
Admittedly I did not rate the Pilgrims’ signings but they’ve proved to be a robust and dangerous outfit under Derek Adams.
At the start of the campaign my shout for a top three of Wycombe, Pompey and Cambridge looked embarrassingly off the mark.
But all three sides are loitering around play-off places after slow starts.
It is a formality now that Gareth Ainsworth overachieves with the Chairboys every season on a shoestring budget.
Their solid form means I back them to cement a play-off place.
As for Cambridge, they have hit the kind of form Pompey need.
A stream of wins has propelled Shaun Derry’s men up the table, and I still believe they will gain automatic promotion.
They seem destined to keep key and promising players Will Norris, Luke Berry and Uche Ikpeazu.
A top goalkeeper, a playmaker and a strong powerful striker.
Some would say exactly what Pompey need.
Doncaster, who I stated would finish fourth, have impressed, and I think will now win the league.
The addition of Connor Grant on loan from Everton is quite a coup for this level.
Notts County are certainly falling below the play-off mark I set them, on the other hand Barnet are exceeding expectations.
However, I think overall the League Two table is providing little shocks.
Those teams with the bigger budgets and stable off-field predicaments are near the top, with the less fortunate sides struggling.
So here’s my halfway-mark prediction: Doncaster will win the title, with Pompey and Cambridge coming in second and third respectively.
The play-off places will be occupied by Plymouth, Wycombe, Carlisle and Luton – in that order.
Who will go down is anyone’s guess.
I still fancy Newport County to put a run together to survive under Graham Westley.
I believe so-called big-hitters Leyton Orient and Notts County will really, really struggle.
I suppose we can all pretend to be experts...