Lack of on-field Portsmouth progress stark as Kenny Jackett has 14 games to save Blues career

Pompey's second-half shocker at Southend in February 2019 infamously went down in modern Fratton Park history.

Sunday, 7th March 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Sunday, 7th March 2021, 12:57 pm

Now add the first-half horror show at Northampton on Saturday into the same dark chapter of the Blues archives.

Coincidentally, both dire results arrived in the 32nd fixture of the 2018-19 and 2020-21 seasons respectively.

Nadirs had been hit, all of the much-lauded work and festive-period leads during the first half of the campaign ripped up following a run of insipid results.

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Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Dennis Goodwin

After blowing a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 at Southend, Pompey's top-two hopes all but came to an end.

Trailing second-placed Barnsley by five points, most accepted the Blues had been consigned to the play-offs. That indeed proved the case.

However, following the final whistle in a 4-1 defeat to another lowly outfit in Northampton, there's now not even a guarantee of a top-six finish like in the past two seasons.

Dropping to sixth spot, Pompey are now worryingly looking over their shoulder at Ipswich, Accrington and even Oxford.

Since the turn of the year, just 17 of a possible 39 points have been accrued – far from acceptable.

With all that considered, from the two years between the Southend to Northampton games, the Blues’ progress made on the pitch has plateaued.

Despite setting out top-two ambitions in each summer, Pompey still remain a play-off contending League One side.

They’re scrambling around for the right formula to finally seal a Championship return fans are so desperate to enjoy after sinking to the Football League’s doldrums.

In terms of improvements and achievements tangible to the Fratton faithful, there is little to show for.

The Checkatrade Trophy triumph proved a grand day out at Wembley, topped with the silverware. However, when it comes to supporters' priorities, it ranks fairly low on their list.

There’s still no clear footballing playing style, nor a recognised strongest starting line-up and formation despite having entered the latter stages of the campaign.

What the main concern is that after 32 games, Pompey's points tally has regressed for successive years.

The Blues are now eight points worse off than in 2018-19 and four points than last term. Lose to in-form Sunderland on Tuesday and they’ll be seven points behind where they were at this stage in 2019-20.

What’s more, Pompey still capable of throwing in the sort of dreadful displays successful sides of years gone by like Wigan, Blackburn, Luton, Barnsley and Coventry never did.

In fairness, he's probably not wrong. Boasting the likes of John Marquis, Ronan Curtis and Marcus Harness among others, Pompey's front line was branded the strongest in the division by Oxford boss Karl Robinson.

Supporters are understandably venting their frustration towards Jackett, with large sections wanting him replaced before promotion is completely unachievable.

The players need to shoulder the blame also, though. Too many have lost form at the same time, too many devoid of the sort of bravery on the ball required to come through this malaise.

And when it comes to the defensive display at Northampton, it would have had an under-10s manager incensed nevermind professional footballers.

One thing is certain – Jackett has 14 games remaining to reinvigorate his troops and yield promotion.

Otherwise, with Jackett out of contract in June, Pompey will be looking for a new boss this summer.