COMMENT: John Marquis - The mis-firing £1m disappointment who deeply divided Portsmouth fan opinion, yet history books will speak glowingly about new Lincoln man

Despatched to Fratton Park for Danny Cowley’s maiden match in charge, Ian Abrahams was a little perplexed.

Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 1:00 pm

The talkSPORT reporter couldn’t fathom the collective apathy among the local press towards then-Pompey leading scorer John Marquis.

‘But he was bought to score goals, that’s his job, and that is exactly what he has done’, protested the man more commonly referred to as ‘Moose’ in March 2021.

Abrahams, of course, had an excellent point.

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Only Ronan Curtis, Yakubu and Brett Pitman have scored more times for the Blues in the 21st Century than Marquis, his haul of 38 putting him one above Gareth Evans.

The former Doncaster man was not reliant on penalties either, netting five times, albeit eventually having duties removed from him following successive misses last season.

Irrespective of perception over the 29-year-old’s ability, his Pompey record is roughly little more than a goal every three matches, which certainly deserves respect.

Scratching beneath the surface, however, refusing to be blinded by statistics and figures and instead relying on our eyes and judgement, Marquis will rank as a costly mistake.

Former Pompey striker John Marquis divided opinion during an unsucecssful two-and-a-half years at Fratton Park. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages

Recruited in August 2019 from the Keepmoat Stadium, rightly he became the Blues’ top earner, financial reward befitting a highly-coveted player purchased for £1m.

Indeed, few would have argued against the arrival of a prolific League One striker who had netted 67 times in three seasons.

The signing of Marquis represented a huge statement of intent for a side which had fallen in the play-off semi-finals to Sunderland the previous campaign and subsequently lost Matt Clarke and Jamal Lowe. Unfortunately it didn’t work out.

The striker could never be faulted for work-rate, application and effort, while he is widely regarded as an excellent trainer and model professional.

Even for a Fratton farewell against MK Dons ahead of the switch to Lincoln, his 17-minute cameo from the bench was full of high intensity chasing and pressing. Admirable.

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However, during two-and-a-half seasons at Fratton Park, Marquis was consistently not up to the standard required to drive Pompey into the Championship.

Strip away the goals – with 10 arriving in his last 55 outings – and his playing flaws became ever more apparent.

Many observant Blues supporters had sussed out his weaknesses long before the goals dried up from November 2020. Kudos to them, for soon others would catch up.

Quite simply, Marquis failed to recapture his Doncaster form, a figure unrecognisable from greatest hits clips occasionally rolled out on social media by his former club.

Kenny Jackett ruined him is one common cry, Pompey failed to play to his strengths is another. Another quality striker destroyed by the Blues, has also been heard on occasions.

Yet the fact remains, in an era when a newcomer is judged on his opening 45 minutes for a club, Marquis was handed 127 games, of which 94 were starts.

That is more than sufficient time to accurately assess a player’s ability and, similarly, plenty of opportunity for the player to impress, irrespective of his role within the side.

Unquestionably, Pompey never saw the best of Marquis in two-and-a-half seasons. Was that really going to change by handing him another 127 appearances?

Dredging up Doncaster feats is misleading. Referring to performances at another club back in May 2019 to justify his continued inclusion at Pompey in 2022 unfathomable.

A footballer should be judged entirely on his displays for Pompey, not a CV written before he joined. After all, Charlie Daniels played in the Premier League the season preceding his Blues arrival.

Plenty of players have arrived at Fratton Park with big reputations and were unable to rise to the challenge, for whatever reason.

Rory Allen, Lee Mills, David Nugent (for two seasons), Collins Mbesuma, Jermaine Pennant, John Utaka, Dave Kitson, the list goes on and on. It happens, it’s football.

Marquis couldn’t shine in Jackett’s system despite the manager sticking by him, he was unable to sparkle in Danny Cowley’s playing style despite the head coach’s arm around the showing and bold statements in the media. Perhaps the fault doesn’t merely lie with the man overseeing Pompey selection?

Still, the former Millwall apprentice produced excellent work off the field of play, pitching in to help out with deliveries to the vulnerable and needy during the first lockdown, while, in a classy touch, personally spoke to George Carnell after the Pompey fan tried to kill himself.

Overall, the history books will be kind to John Marquis.

They won’t detail those improbable misses against Plymouth and Charlton, being sent off after miscontrolling the ball at Shrewsbury, and celebrating each of his four goals this term by putting his hands over his ears in front of the Pompey faithful.

Instead, as memories fade, opinions mellow and future generations of Pompey fans are welcomed into the fold, they will judge the striker entirely on an eye-catching record of 38 goals in 127 appearances.

Perhaps Moose was right, after all.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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