There’s been much focus this week on the average age of the Pompey squad who lined up for the win at Fleetwood and after much working of abacusus, I believe it was worked out to be about 15.
This sort of ‘aren’t they all young?’ excitement is always more palatable after a win, of course – had Pompey caved in on a cold night in Lancashire it probably wouldn’t have been mentioned again.
It’s not the first time the Blues have gone for a baby-faced XI and it reminded me of the start of Bald Eagle Jim Smith’s reign back in the summer of 1991.
Back then those fans making the trip to another north-west outpost, Ewood Park, for the season opener were rather taken aback by a starting XI which included Andy Awford, Kit Symons, Darren Anderton and Darryl Powell and NOT the likes of Warren Neill, Warren Aspinall, Steve Wigley and Mark Chamberlain.
This was still some years before Alan Hansen’s famous ‘You won’t win anything with kids’ view of Man Utd that has been thrown back in his face regularly ever since.
Even so, there were more than a few Pompey fans that day thinking of Smith: ‘What on earth is he doing?’
It didn’t take long to find out. This, it soon transpired, was no gamble – Smith had obviously seen enough from this talented young bunch in summer training to have faith in them – and they repaid him by making first-team spots their own and taking Pompey, with the help of elders around them, to an FA Cup semi-final and the brink of a play-off place.
It was the start of a great era – who’s to say we’re not now at the beginning of another?