Gaffer: Portsmouth are going nowhere. It’s like walking into a wall and trying to carry on walking

Gaffer for a Day, Josh Sweetman, aged 29, from Havant, gives his verdict on Pompey’s 2-1 loss to Cambridge United on Saturday...

Sunday, 19th September 2021, 5:30 pm
Mahlon Romeo was Josh Sweetman's choice for Pompey's man of the match against Cambridge United. Picture: Joe Pepler

What did you think of that then?

Well, I would love to tell you about the opening 15 minutes, but I spent it queuing to get into the Fratton Park. It was absolutely ridiculous.

I popped into the Good Companion for a quick pint and got there at 2.45pm. Normally you can rock up at two minutes before kick-off and there is a 4-5 man queue.

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However, on Saturday, one queue for the Fratton End went past the club shop and the other stretched along the majority of the North Stand.

It was chaos. Some fans were saying their new cards had malfunctioned and the only steward on the two turnstiles had to instead let everyone in with his own card!

Stewards were telling us not to put the card in but to swipe it contactless, which I did without any issue when I got to the turnstile.

Thankfully, most around me saw the funny side of it. Most expected something to go wrong, which says it all.

What did you make of the supporter reaction to defeat?

To be honest, I didn't boo. As for that ‘This is embarrassing’ chant, I think that was more directed towards the last 4-5 years.

As a club, we’re going nowhere. It’s like walking into a wall and trying to carry on walking. I can understand the chant entirely.

In terms of football, there wasn’t a single grain of fight in that team. No passion, no fight, no desire. And what has happened to the pressing game?

Cambridge scored two very good goals, I must admit, but if you can’t break teams like that down, then how on earth will we do it against Sunderland?

It’s a huge, huge concern.

So what is the issue with this team?

Under Danny Cowley we are supposed to be a passing team, but it’s all sideways, not one player tried to be creative.

Nobody wants to risk giving the ball away, the amount of times we went long was ridiculous.

I know we are desperate for a striker, but why didn’t we attempt to sign another winger in the summer? Ronan Curtis has started the season dreadfully and so has Marcus Harness.

Reeco Hackett-Fairchild has done well, but not played at this level before. So we’ve got two players who can perform at 3/10 level and keep their place because there’s no options.

Curtis was terrible on Saturday, but he’ll score a goal, while you want Harness to be direct yet doesn’t go at this man.

Can you even pick a man of the match?

That’s a tough one, we were dreadful from start to finish. It’s impossible, but I’ll go for Mahlon Romeo.

You can tell he’s Championship quality, he’s quick, strong, decent with the ball at his feet and attack-minded. Certainly Kieron Freeman doesn't go forward as well as Romeo.

I was also encouraged by Miguel Azeez on his debut. He wanted to get on the ball and make things happen, but there was no intelligence in players making runs around him.

He wants to drive forward and move the ball quickly, which is what has been missing, although I’m not sure whether he is naturally a number 10 or more box-to-box.

Gavin Bazunu – 6

Mahlon Romeo – 6

Paul Downing – 4

Sean Raggett – 4

Lee Brown – 5

Shaun Williams – 5

Ryan Tunnicliffe – 6

Miguel Azeez – 6

Marcus Harness – 4

Ronan Curtis – 4

Ellis Harrison – 6

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