Paul Merson salutes Pompey’s early summer recruitment

Louis Dennis. Picture: Neil Weld/Portsmouth FC
Louis Dennis. Picture: Neil Weld/Portsmouth FC
Brett Pitman. Picture: Joe Pepler

Paul Merson: Pompey always have a chance when Brett Pitman is playing

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Paul Merson has saluted Pompey’s early summer transfer business.

But the former Fratton favourite admitted he was pleased the Blues didn’t gain promotion from League One last season.

Paul Merson holds aloft the 2002-03 Championship winners trophy

Paul Merson holds aloft the 2002-03 Championship winners trophy

Kenny Jackett has been busy freshening his squad as he plots his side’s way into the Championship for the upcoming campaign.

The Pompey boss has recruited five new faces to date, with Ronan Curtis, Louis Dennis, Craig MacGillivray, Tom Naylor and Lee Brown all penning Blues deals.

In contrast, not a single new addition had arrived at Fratton Park this time 12 months ago.

And Merson, who skippered Pompey to the Division One title in 2003, believes signing players well before pre-season begins is a positive step.

The ex-England international does not advocate bringing in new troops on the final day of the window – which the Blues did last summer when Oli Hawkins, Matty Kennedy, Stuart O’Keefe and Damien McCrory all arrived.

‘It’s about building and you need to bring in certain players,’ Merson told The News.

‘Pompey already have done this summer ahead of next season.

‘They’re doing their business quickly, which is always a good sign.

‘You want it done beforehand. You don’t want to be bringing players in on transfer deadline day – it just doesn’t work.’

The Blues missed out on a League One play-off spot last season.

Jackett’s side finished eighth in the table after a poor finish.

Regardless, Merson was glad his former club did not clinch back-to-back promotions.

He believes Pompey would have struggled in the Championship next term.

And the ex-Fratton forward, who still pays close attention to the Blues’ results, heaped praise on the impact Jackett has made since arriving.

Merson added: ‘I was quite pleased they didn’t go up last season, if I’m being honest.

‘To go up and then be promoted again then I think they would have been caught a bit too short.

‘You need to build and get up steadily and hopefully they will be able to do it next season.

‘People might have been disappointed they didn’t, but you have got to look at the long run.

‘You’ve got to really think two promotions on the trot and they’d have been in a bit of trouble this season.

‘Wherever you play for whatever club you play for, fans want to see a winning team.

‘I fear if they’d have gone up with the squad they had at the time they’d have struggled.

‘I like Kenny and he has done a good job.

‘I like him and when I was at Watford as a 12-year-old he used to train me.

‘Him, Nigel Callaghan and players like that used to come down.

‘He would have been 18 or 19 and it was nice because you looked up to players in the first team.

‘I have a lot of respect for Kenny.’