How Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett has silenced his critics - and what he needs to do to keep it that way
Step back in time 12 months and you’d be hard pushed not to find a #JackettOut reference on your social media timeline.
A 3-1 humbling defeat at the hands of MK Dons added fuel to the flames already burning brightly after play-off disappointment against Sunderland and a slow start to the 2019-20 season.
Meanwhile, the impending 1-1 draw at Gillingham on New Year’s Day would have given manager Kenny Jackett little leeway from the barrage of abuse directed towards him, either.
Sections of supporters had their minds made made – this custodian of the Fratton Park hot seat was on borrowed time. A new leader was needed – and quickly
Fast forward to the summer, and those deeply ensconced in this particular standpoint were seeing their numbers increasing exponentially.
Another play-off defeat – and the nature of the loss against Oxford over two legs – left many in no doubt that a fresh approach was of the utmost urgency.
A fourth season in the third tier was simply not good enough.
The loud voices of those demanding change were proving harder to ignore.
Of course, we all know the Blues decided against such action, despite recognising that all was not well among the Fratton Faithful.
Indeed, a similar approach was adopted at the tail end of September, too, with Pompey languishing in 21st spot after two draws and a defeat from their opening three league games.
A decision which probably surprised even those with staunch faith in the manager.
Although, the reported £400,000 pay-off required to do so during a year of unprecedented losses because of the coronavirus pandemic may have been a key factor!
Regardless, as we approach the end of 2020, it’s fair to say the Blues board’s stance, or gamble as some would put it, on the manager is paying off.
Pompey have overcome their early-season jitters and sit pretty in the automatic promotions spots heading into the new year.
Fourteen wins, with just three defeats, in all competitions have been recorded since defeat at home to Wigan on September 26.
Some notable scalps have been recorded along the way, while the Blues are the division’s joint-top scorers alongside Doncaster Rovers.
A change in formation has gone some way to instigate such a turnaround, with ‘Jacketball’ being replaced with an attacking style that is bringing out the best in the team.
That alone has converted many back into trusting and believing in this current Pompey project.
The dissenting voices aren’t as deafening as they once were.
They remain, of course, ready to pounce.
But Jackett has certainly managed to silence his critics – and deserves credit for doing so.
He and the Blues will exit 2020 a lot happier than when they entered it. So, too, will the Fratton faithful.
But if the manager wants to make his fragile relationship with the fans a stronger bond, we all know what’s needed to take it to the next level.
Championship football is the goal.
And at this precise moment in time, Jackett & Co are well placed to come up with a much-needed victory – both on and off the pitch.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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