Deadline night angst as Pompey steer clear of quick fix

Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler
Anton Walkes. Picture: Joe Pepler/ PinPep

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With an hour remaining until the 11pm deadline panic had set in.

Pompey fans were venting their spleens with all the hysteria of a Jim White transfer filibuster about not a lot at all.

Depressed memes were doing the rounds as tetchy online bluebloods bickered among each other at the lack of movement in Fratton Park’s arrivals lounge.

Twenty minutes later the groundswell of frustration had reached a crescendo as Kyle Bennett’s exit was confirmed.

Still, with the window ajar there was time for the Blues to pull a rabbit out of the hat.

The universally recognised gap in midfield experience was the place where eyes were trained.

And there were a fair few glances aimed in forward areas among the Fratton faithful.

So Stephen Henderson shouldn’t take the late-night furore circulating as his return was announced to heart.

A popular figure both among the club’s support and staff in his first spell, the Irishman will seriously bolster Pompey’s strength between the sticks.

Henderson, of course, will also be linking up with his old goalkeeping coach John Keeley as he returns to the club he made 27 appearances for in the 2011-12 season.

But with Luke McGee performing adeptly enough as No1 following his summer arrival from Spurs and promising youngster Alex Bass his deputy, it was a move few saw coming.

The mid-evening emergence of Jackett’s interest in the 29-year-old provided a leftfield angle to the Pompey deadline-day narrative.

It was one which began with news of Kal Naismith attracting interest from Wigan.

An unlikely tale, if ever there was one. Paul Cook and the mercurial Scot, it’s fair to say, weren’t the biggest fans of each other for much of their time together at Fratton Park.

Even amid Naismith’s memorable goal run across the season’s finale which proved so crucial to title success, he couldn’t find his way on to the player-of-the-year shortlist chosen by club staff at Pompey’s end-of-season dinner.

Naismith, of course, had also been transfer-listed at the end of his first season at the club under Cook.

Yet, the noise at the proposed move never accelerated into an offer on the table as Wigan instead turned their attention to Fleetwood’s Devante Cole.

It was Naismith along with Bennett and a possible loan move for Conor Chaplin – after the fans’ favourite expressed an understandable desire for game time – where the attention lied in terms of exits.

Mark Catlin has now confirmed Pompey never received a single bid for any of their players, however.

That makes a mockery of the claptrap circulating throughout the day over a host of bids for prized asset Matt Clarke.

The ‘in-the-know’ fraudsters had been busy peddling that notion with Watford the club pulled out of the air and put next to Clarke’s name.

There’s no doubt, though, the 21-year-old staying put should be one of the biggest causes for celebration among Pompey fans after an admittedly underwhelming deadline day.

With three new faces already in the building this month in the shape of Connor Ronan, Sylvain Deslandes and Anton Walkes, the final-day business read one in and two out.

Milan Lalkovic’s unfortunate injury problems perpetuated the other exit, as he left with best wishes for football and fitness elsewhere.

With the move for Derby’s Jamie Hanson never getting off the ground and no midfield muscle arriving elsewhere, it’s clear where Pompey look light as attentions can now return to the pitch.

There has, and will be, focus on the club’s owners as plenty chose to overlook their message of a prudent approach on a night of frustration.

But from Michael Eisner to Jackett, the message of taking a long-term view has been consistent.

Perhaps that tells why travelling down the list of targets for a short-term fix was a path avoided this time around.