Pompey v Crawley: Insider

Former Pompey youngster Andre Blackman. Picture: Phil Westlake
Former Pompey youngster Andre Blackman. Picture: Phil Westlake
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Graham Carter, form the Crawley Observer, gives his take on Saturday’s visitors to Fratton Park.

Crawley have made a really good start to the season, especially considering the bookies had them as second favourites for relegation.

There has been a new owner, a new manager and 20 new signings, with only four – Bobson Bawling, Lewis Young, Jimmy Smith and Josh Yorwerth – remaining from last term.

For all the changes, head coach Dermot Drummy has taken the Reds into ninth spot and they were even second before last weekend’s defeat to Notts County.

At present it has been beyond expectations, while Drummy is trying to play an attacking brand of football, which is very encouraging.

He was previously head coach for Chelsea’s reserves and under-19s, so knows a lot of talented young players and was also at Arsenal in a similar capacity.

The club needed an overhaul. The previous benefactor had wanted to move and for almost three years Crawley had been for sale.

He was happy to carry on until a suitable new owner could be found but was not continuing to invest on the same levels, so finances had been run down a bit.

It has been two campaigns of struggle. Following relegation from League One, last season they finished 20th in League Two.

However, under the control of new owner Ziya Eren, things are definitely looking up for the club.

Promotion has not been set as a target this season, instead Eren is looking long term by carrying out a gradual rebuilding process. This is no quick fix.

They do not possess a reserve team or academy side, so he wants to address that and build from scratch, while re-establishing good engagement with the community.

If they were to finish 12th this season they would be happy with that.

Looking at the side, there are several with Chelsea links – including loan keeper Mitchell Beeney, Danny Pappoe and deadline day signing Aliu Kaby Djalo.

This summer he recruited Andre Blackman, a former Pompey Academy player who has been a regular at left-back and done okay since his arrival.

Up front they have James Collins, who was part of the Northampton Town side which won promotion last season, scoring eight goals in 21 games.

He was seen as a marquee signing – with Crawley beating off competition from other clubs – and a three-year contract shows their commitment.

So far he has scored twice and will be an important player this season.