Portsmouth’s League One points-per-game average with and without Brett Pitman in the starting line-up this season
It’s been the hot topic of conversation across the pubs in the PO area throughout the season.
Despite his superb record in the lower leagues, and finishing as Pompey’s 25-goal top scorer last term, Brett Pitman was confined to a support-role act behind Oli Hawkins before the turn of the year.
And following the January loan arrivals of Omar Bogle and James Vaughan, there was a period when the captain was omitted from Kenny Jackett’s match-day squad altogether.
Even when the Blues went on an eight-match winless streak in League One, the 31-year-old still remained out of favour.
However, Pitman has reinvented himself in the No10 role, starting the past five games.
During that period, Pompey have yielded four straight victories in the third tier, reignited their chances of automatic promotion.
And, of course, there’s that Checkatrade Trophy triumph over Sunderland at Wembley ensconced in the middle.
Pitman has certainly delivered since his return, netting four goals – including a double in Saturday’s 3-2 win at Wycombe – and earning praise from his manager.
But the former AFC Bournemouth forward’s form has made some sections of supporters wonder if Pompey would be better off if he’d have been utilised more during the campaign.
After crunching the numbers, the stats show the Blues have, in fact, picked up more points per game when the captain features from the outset.
Pitman has started 11 games in the division during 2018-19, with the Blues amassing 24 points from a possible 33 – an average of 2.18 per match.
The ex-AFC Bournemouth and Ipswich man began wins over Luton, Rochdale, Coventry, Fleetwood, Walsall, Scunthorpe, Shrewsbury and most-recently Wycombe.
He was also in the XI for the loss at Luton, as well as Fratton Park defeats to Gillingham and Blackpool.
In the 29 games Pitman hasn’t started, though, the Blues have accrued 53 points from a possible 87 – which works out at 1.82 per game.
Of course, there was a period when getting the Jersey-born talent into Jackett’s starting XI was almost impossible.
The scintillating form of Hawkins, Gareth Evans, Jamal Lowe and Ronan Curtis made the quartet virtually undroppable as the Blues sat at the summit of the table before the turn of the year.
Nevertheless, after their blip throughout January and February, Pitman has given Pompey a fillip they desperately needed.
And the numbers underline the crucial role he still has at Fratton Park.