Disappointed Portsmouth defender makes Academy admission following latest batch of departures

Pompey defender Haji Mnoga revealed his disappointment at Academy exits of coaches and colleagues in recent years.

By Sam Cox
Monday, 13th June 2022, 4:55 am

After making his Blues first-team debut in October 2018, the 20-year-old has progressed to 15 appearances and one goal.

However, along the journey he has witnessed friends and staff leave the club.

At the season’s end, Liam Daish departed as lead professional development phase coach, while well-regarded and long-serving head of academy and welfare Jon Slater retired.

While Pompey have recently come under criticism for an apparent lack of pathway from the Academy to the senior side.

Mnoga told The News: ‘For me, personally, most of my academy coaches are now leaving.

‘Mark Kelly, who was quite big in my career to date, Jon Slater who was massive in my career and is someone I’ve known since I joined the club, and then Liam Daish who I’ve known for a long time.

‘For me, it’s quite disappointing to see them going because I’d always catch up with them when I go in from the first-team or on loan and they’ve been pleased with me.’

Eight new Pompey scholars pen two-year deals at Fratton Park. Back row: Academy chief Mark Kelly, Haji Mnoga, Alfie Stanley, Harry Kavanagh, Stan Bridgman and coach Liam Daish. Front row: Tom Bruce, Ethan Robb, Liam Kelly and Leon Pitman Picture: Portsmouth FC

This saw no second or third-year scholars retained at Fratton Park, while Harrison Brook and Seok Jae Lee also declined new contracts.

Mnoga is adamant some of those who left were good enough to take the next step.

However, this year has seen a trio progress with Harry Jewitt-White, Alfie Bridgman, Toby Steward and Dan Gifford all signing new deals.

He added: ‘I was disappointed when Alfie and Harry (Kavanagh) went because I’ve known them basically my whole football life.

‘Even before I was at Pompey, I’d be playing against them, so that was really disappointing for me.

‘From my age group, I’m the only one who is still there.

‘I don’t think it’s a case of players not being good enough (when they’re released). It comes down to more what the plans of the first-team are and the club’s development plan.

‘I think that’s the main thing.’