What Pompey’s busiest deadline day of all tells us

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Mark Catlin admitted he’d never known a deadline day like it.

After a frenetic finale in which eight deals had been completed, the Pompey chief executive remarked it was the busiest end to the transfer window he’d known in his four years at the club.

Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

That would be the case because it’s the busiest the Blues have ever seen.

Since its inception back in the 2002-03 season there has not been a deadline, summer or winter, like it. Not even remotely close.

From Harry Redknapp’s car-window interviews and dealings to Andrew Andronikou’s firesales, we’d seen nothing approaching this level of activity.

We collectively hold our heads in our hands as we recall the four-year contract handed to Tal Ben Haim at the end of the 2009 summer window.

Dave Kitson and Liam Lawrence arrived in a surprise deal in 2010. Picture: Robin Jones

Dave Kitson and Liam Lawrence arrived in a surprise deal in 2010. Picture: Robin Jones

The Israeli was one of three late arrivals along with Mike Williamson and Hassan Yebda back then.

Then, a year later, there was the bizarre sight of Dave Kitson and Liam Lawrence signing lucrative deals despite the club being in administration. Marc Wilson departed to Stoke in the same deal.

The final day of the summer window in 2012 saw three arrivals (Josh Thompson, Darel Russell and Johnny Ertl) with two departing (Sam Magri and Kieran Djilali).

But four new faces amid eight transactions? There’s been nothing quite like it.

Johnny Ertl and Darel Russell arrived in 2012 as three players came in and two departed. Picture: Allan Hutchings (122873-695)

Johnny Ertl and Darel Russell arrived in 2012 as three players came in and two departed. Picture: Allan Hutchings (122873-695)

So what is there to garner from this final-day glut of football business?

Well, we know Pizza Hut’s shares have gone well off the back of the flow of pepperoni and meat feast specials which kept staff going at the club’s Roko base in Hilsea.

But it’s the volume of activity proving a departure from the mantra being preached on Jackett’s arrival which fascinates.

Evolution not revolution was the philosophy being aired at the start of June.

The champions of League Two didn’t need major surgery we were told, with the process more a case of remoulding rather than ripping up the squad.

We have now seen 13 of the 25 names listed on the back of the programme for the glorious final day win over Cheltenham depart. In their place stand the nine signings made by Jackett since succeeding Paul Cook.

Yes, Damien McCrory’s arrival wouldn’t have taken place without the unfortunate knee injury to fellow new boy Tareiq Holmes-Dennis.

Even factoring in that issue, it still represents some pretty significant surgery to the first-team options.

Likewise, we’ve seen a marked decrease in the squad’s average age.

Out have gone 30-plus players Gary Roberts (33), Carl Baker (34), David Forde (37), Michael Doyle (36) and Noel Hunt (34). In their place is a youthful group with the average of age of Sunday’s starting line-up against Rotherham just 22.7 (23 if you include the bench).

Interestingly, of that team, only Christian Burgess and Matt Clarke could be called regular starters last term.

Credit goes to Catlin and Tony Brown for going about the business and not letting costs stray too far from the £3m playing budget.

There’s little doubt, too, there is a better balance to Pompey’s options at the close of the window.

Allowing for some flexibility in roles, Jackett is running with a squad of 24 players with two keepers, eight defenders, five defensive midfielders, five attacking midfielders and four strikers.

The raft of attacking midfielders has been trimmed and the squad broadly appears to work on two players to each position.

But, after two months, the volume of work undoubtedly represents a change in tack from the Pompey boss.

Whether that was always his intention or a result of assessing his squad is open to speculation.

No matter the rhetoric, a manager will always want to put his stamp on a club. Jackett’s certainly achieved that now.