Thank you Pompey’s boss - from the Premier League with love

Kenny Jackett won the League One title with Wolves in the 2013-14 season
Kenny Jackett won the League One title with Wolves in the 2013-14 season
Louis Dennis is ready to grab his chance with Pompey. Picture: Neil Weld/Portsmouth FC

Pompey recruit eager to capitalise on second chance

0
Have your say

Outcomes elsewhere dictated Premier League promotion on a day of Wolves inactivity.

There were celebrations, followed by reflection – and then tributes.

‘Wolves promoted and recognition should be given to the part Kenny Jackett played in restoring, pride, values and the performances of the team,’ tweeted Kevin Bullas.

‘Good luck for the future Kenny and thanks for all you’ve done for Wolves. Good luck Pompey.’

Dale Selby echoed such sentiment: ‘While Nuno deserves every success for what he has done with Wolves, I still think some credit goes to Kenny Jackett who stabilised the club after two consecutive relegations.

‘Batth, Coady and Doherty wouldn’t be the players they are without him.’

Wolves are back in the top flight, with Nuno Espirito Santo’s Championship title winners also on track to crash through the 100-point barrier.

When their return was clinched, the Molineux outfit were awaiting a Sky-televised fixture with Birmingham scheduled 24 hours later.

Yet foundations had been constructed years earlier by Jackett and long-time assistant Joe Gallen.

Appointed in June 2013 to a club devastated by successive relegations and languishing in the third tier for the first time since 1989, their endeavours are still toasted by the Wolves faithful.

By the culmination of the 2013-14 campaign, Wolves were League One champions with a record-breaking 103 points, 31 wins and 25 clean sheets.

Such retrospection reveals the calibre of the man currently at the Fratton Park helm, a figure to have at times come under criticism from a sparse Pompey collective.

While his credentials are questioned by some, Jackett remains emphatically lodged in Wolves supporters’ affections.

‘I am delighted for Wolves, several messages were sent and returned, congratulations to them,’ Jackett told The News.

‘It’s a massive club and the way the owners have come in and backed it means it looks like it could keep going as well.

‘It has potential to be in the top 10 of the Premier League if they get it right, which they’ll be working really hard to achieve next season, I’m sure. They’ll take some stopping.

‘When I arrived they’d had two relegations in two years and quite a big discord between the supporters and the club, I thought.

‘Each managerial scenario is slightly different, you have to adapt and then make sure you can capitalise on the strengths it has.

‘Wolves had a high number of good, young players ready to play and it actually helped them going down to League One. It meant they played when perhaps they wouldn’t have been able to – it helped the club build.

‘I tried to build some bridges between the club, the team and supporters, to regroup and go again.

‘We didn’t want to stay down that first year like a number of other clubs have in the past, such as Leeds and Sheffield United.’

Upon his arrival, Jackett transfer-listed Karl Henry, Jamie O’Hara, Roger Johnson and Stephen Ward, while implemented a 4-2-3-1 system.

Bakary Sako, who now inhabits the Premier League with Crystal Palace, was already on the books, although Jackett did recruit Michael Jacobs from Derby, initially on loan.

Elsewhere, right-back Sam Ricketts arrived on a free from Bolton, left-back Scott Golbourne came from Barnsley, James Henry from Millwall, while young defender Danny Batth became a regular.

Jackett had assembled a side which ended the season with 17 wins and one defeat in their final 21 fixtures.

He added: ‘For the opening 40 per cent of the season we were pretty much third most of the time, which isn’t a bad position.

‘We were hanging on to the top clubs, sorting ourselves out. We weren’t bad, but not necessarily flying.

‘At a club like that you only needed a couple of losses or defeats against a perceived small club and it can be really debilitating to everybody. In the end, because the players read social media, it started to bring the performances down.

‘The first part was hard, we were hanging in, then it clicked from January.

‘The ability to change a club depends on contractual situations, the backing of the owners and then what players you have underneath to be able to hit the ground running and play straight away.

‘If you have that to build on then you have something to be able to take things forward – and fortunately they did at Wolves.

‘Leigh Griffiths was on loan at Hibs, Richard Stearman had been loaned to Ipswich for the second half of the previous year. I brought them back, I knew they were good enough.

‘There were a couple of key signings, such as Kevin McDonald from Sheffield United, who had a clause in his contract, but there was a lot to pull together.

‘There were a number there who, quite rightly, didn’t want to play in League One. Wayne Hennessey was coming back from injury, but didn’t play for me as he went to Palace.

‘Stephen Ward, who is now at Burnley, was another and loaned to Brighton. There were quite a few very good players that didn’t want to be there for whatever reason, but there were some takers for those guys, which was a good thing.’

Upon their Championship return, Wolves missed out on the play-offs by goal difference, having scored four fewer goals than Ipswich.

The 2015-16 season would prove his last at Molineux, finishing 14th.

In July 2016, Chinese conglomerate group Fosun international bought the club, with Jackett replaced by Walter Zenga before the month was out.

Now Wolves are in the Premier League – and Pompey have themselves a manager credited for inspiring such an ascent.