Pompey are finally moulding into a Championship force.
That’s the confident verdict of Blues boss Steve Cotterill.
He believes his new-look side showed positive signs of gelling against West Ham.
The 4-3 Upton Park defeat was harsh on the Blues, who produced a superb display against the title favourites.
Ultimately, the sending off of skipper Liam Lawrence and a highly-contentious penalty proved to be decisive.
There has been a major overhaul of the Pompey playing squad this summer, with 17 departing and nine arriving.
That high turnover has inevitably ensured it is taking time for the Fratton players to build up an understanding on the pitch.
But Cotterill insists the overriding signs are pointing to them getting there.
He said: ‘The lads have all done okay.
‘They are just finding their feet and adjusting.
‘Nothing comes overnight and we have nine new players at the football club.
‘They work hard every day and are good, honest pros.
‘But they need a bit of time to find out about each other, to learn about the way they play.
‘There are still little mis-understandings in training because they do not know each others’ movements at the moment.
‘You can see that every day and that is something that can be rectified only in time.
‘Of course, they are working hard to get that understanding, but it doesn’t just happen like that.
‘I think it is very difficult for the players to know the ins and outs of each other after six games.
‘They have not even all been together in pre-season, either.
‘But we were the better side against West Ham the other day.
‘You could see things coming together. It was a very good performance.’
There were six summer recruits in the Blues’ starting line-up in east London.
They included Luke Varney, Erik Huseklepp, David Norris, Jason Pearce, Benjani Mwaruwari and Greg Halford, who was on loan at Pompey last term. In addition, Tal Ben Haim is now back playing, having not featured last season.
For Cotterill, it’s a period of adjustment which naturally affects most players.
He added: ‘Look at Edin Dzeko at Manchester City – it was very difficult for him settling in last season.
‘They have obviously done a good job – look how good he looks this season.
‘It’s not just about his goals, but his movement.
‘He has just started to get to know his team-mates. He has had to adjust.
‘It can be difficult and we are all working hard to get there.’
Standing firm against
top six n Pages 46-47