Wilson’s Wisdom: Half the job done but Pompey will get stronger

Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler
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The half-time whistle is approaching.

Pompey will play the 23rd game of their 46-game campaign on Boxing Day when they travel to Leyton Orient.

If this was a half-term school report, would Paul Cook’s side be in the ‘must do better’ category or would they be top of the class?

The truth is, I think they are somewhere between the two.

Of course, some will believe Paul Cook’s team is some way behind where they should be and should be destroying all opponents in their path.

But for a team that was put together at the start of the season, I would actually suggest they are ahead of expectation.

Before a ball was kicked this season, I was expecting an inconsistent start to the campaign.

A new manager and a revamped playing staff takes time to bed in, no matter how impatient some people are.

But I always felt Pompey would get stronger over the second half of the season.

My opinion on that part hasn’t changed.

But instead of mounting an assault on the promotion places from a top-10 starting point, they were in fourth place ahead of today’s trip to leaders Northampton.

They have drawn too many games but they haven’t lost too many.

Even if there is a festive wobble, I’m convinced they will be in the play-offs at the very least this season.

From what I’ve seen, I actually think they will be promoted automatically.

Those of us of a certain vintage will recall the 1992-93 season in the old division one, now known as the Championship.

Going into the Boxing Day fixtures, Pompey were in ninth place in the table.

Many will still remember the game that season, or at least the famous Guy Whittingham goal against Bristol Rovers, when he swapped several passes with Paul Walsh and cracked home his third goal of four in a 4-1 win.

That result lifted Pompey into sixth place but they still hadn’t fully clicked into gear by the end of February.

Then they rattled off 11 wins and one draw, which should have taken them to promotion.

Unfortunately, we all know what happened at Sunderland and subsequently Ian Ormondroyd’s offside goal in the play-offs.

Perhaps it’s not the best example as Pompey failed to secure their promotion place that season.

But it does at least suggest that there is plenty of time for Cook’s side to find that consistency this season.

The Pompey boss will no doubt strengthen the squad in January.

But one extra addition is already in place in the shape of Gary Roberts, who is set to come back into the reckoning after his injury.

The man who most expected to be the talisman to fire Pompey to promotion has barely kicked a ball this season – and when he has, he has not been fit.

He’s close to a return and I’m convinced he will make a real difference.

Pompey have a launch pad for promotion for 2016. I think they will finish the job.