Portsmouth transfers Q&A: Neil Allen’s verdict on Blues' lack of creativity, Michael Jacobs, Ronan Curtis’ season and Lee Brown's future ahead of Denver Hume’s arrival from Sunderland

Pompey failed to find the net again on Saturday in their 1-0 defeat to Sunderland.

By Pepe Lacey and Neil Allen
Monday, 24th January 2022, 7:30 pm

Much discussion has taken place since that defeat at the Stadium of Light, with Michael Jacobs at the centre of those exchange of views.

Blues reporter Pepe Lacey is joined by chief sports writer Neil Allen to discuss the conundrum facing Pompey boss Danny Cowley regarding his side’s lack of goals. the former Wigan man and how he could be the spark to reignite the Fratton Park outfit’s attacking flare.

Here’s what he had to say.

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Q Pompey's problems up front were exposed again as they recorded their third League One blank in four games at Sunderland. Why is that when they've got rid of John Marquis and Ellis Harrison and brought in Tyler Walker? Does that suggest there's a lack of creativity in the Blues ranks?

We saw Ellis Harrison and John Marquis for two-and-a-half years, that’s more than 200 games between them and I think they had their chance.

It didn’t work out and they weren’t good enough for this football club. Forget Fleetwood, Lincoln and Doncaster – for this football club they weren’t good enough on a consistent basis and a goalscoring basis.

They moved on, the club moved on and you can't stick with players that haven’t done it for two-and-a-half years.

From left: Michael Jacobs, Danny Cowley, Ronan Curtis and Lee Brown

Pompey brought in Tyler Walker but that duo are not the reason why the Blues haven’t created enough and scored enough chances this season, the issue is still there.

Pompey aren’t suddenly, magically, going to start scoring loads just because they are not here and somebody else comes in. It was never about that.

We are now looking at this system, where we’ve got wing-backs that are meant to be supplying width and putting balls into the box but Pompey are lacking that quality – and all over the pitch as well.

Ronan Curtis is out of form, Marcus Harness’ goals have dried up after his purple patch and it’s an issue all over the park.

It was never going to be rectified the minute John Marquis walked out the door and waved farewell.

The problem is still there and is down to the manager to resolve that, whether it be Michael Jacobs, a system switch, a new left wing-back or whatever they add.

The issue is clearly still there because three goals in the last six games is not good enough.

Q Many fans believe Michael Jacobs is the man to be Pompey's creator-in-chief. But there's one issue there - Cowley doesn't play him regularly. Why is that? Is it a clue that he might also be leaving this month?

It’s doubtful that we will see Jacobs’ contract extended beyond the end of the season.

However, he has only started in the league once this season, which says a lot.

With this system where do you play him? It’s the same with Ronan Curtis.

Again, Pompey rely on the full backs for width – that’s mainly Reeco Hackett and Mahlon Romeo, meaning there are no wingers.

Cowley said after the game on Saturday that Jacobs plays in a similar role to Marcus Harness and, ultimately, Harness is ahead of him.

But Cowley also said he could see a way into the team for him alongside Harness.

He’s got to look at that because we all know what Jacobs can do, that Pompey have got an excellent win ratio with him in the team.

He’s scored three goals this season, he has creativity that others haven’t got, and he’s got that class, that subtlety and that sublime skill he’s got which Pompey don’t have.

Definitely, they need to get him in the team but how do you get him in the team in this system?

Again, Cowley needs to unlock that because we’ve seen what he can do – and he did light up the place when he came off the bench for the final 12 minutes at the Stadium of Light.

Q Ronan Curtis was substituted against the Black Cats without having any real impact. That means he remains on five goals and four assists for the season. Is that good enough for a player of his reported calibre?

For me it’s been his most disappointing season at Pompey.

Since he’s come to this football club he’s generally got better and better.

last year he had his troubles at times but was on a par. This year he's dropped back.

Again, I keep talking about the system but he doesn’t work for me as a central striker. it negates the effectiveness he brings off the wing when he cuts in from the left onto his right and his goals have suffered as a result of that.

I would put that down to the system change, not completely, but primarily because he’s not the player we know he is when he’s out wide.

Everyone knows it doesn’t work down the middle, it doesn’t bring out his best.

We know what he can do, he’s a quality performer at this level, the stats don't lie, he’s done it consistently season after season at this level.

But this year he’s not been as effective for several months because he’s been playing as a central striker which hasn't worked.

Q We're hearing Pompey are closing in on the signing of Denver Hume from Sunderland. What do you make of that potential deal?

I’ve seen there’s a mixed response from Sunderland fans about him going and, as I always say, let’s judge a player with how he performs at Pompey because we know players have arrived with reputations and not done it.

Charlie Daniels, John Marquis, Rory Allen, John Utaka, the list goes on, there's so many.

It just doesn’t work out at some football clubs, does it.

Again, let’s judge him with how he does at Pompey, let’s not hang it on his CV about how he’s done at other clubs.

Charlie Daniels played in the Premier League a year before he came to Pompey and, rightly, we thought he would be a good signing, but it didn't work out.

Miguel Azeez and, to an extent, Harvey White – they came here with reputations and didn’t work.

Let’s judge them when they're here because they're not right in saying ‘well. he was awful at Sunderland so he’ll be awful at Pompey’.

Sometimes it doesn’t work like that so hopefully Pompey have found something good in him and find the best out of him because Pompey clearly need an effective left wing-back.

They need a player in that position and they feel they’ve identified someone who can perform there, so let’s give him a chance and see how he performs on the pitch for Pompey and not what he has done elsewhere.

Q Could his arrival spell the end of Lee Brown's Pompey stay this month?

It is interesting. Lee Brown's contract is up in the summer and Connor Ogilvie can play there as well, but he’s been very good in the centre.

It just depends on what Cowley wants as a left-back option.

I imagine it will spell the end of Reeco Hackett playing there as an experiment.

For me, it hasn't worked, his delivery has been really poor and his best performances for Pompey by far have been further forward on the wing.

Hopefully, we can see him restored to that.

For me, Ogilvie is not an attacking left-back and he appears to be more suited at that centre-half position.

They’ve got all these options but it is a no-brainer that Denver Hume will be ahead of Reeco because Reeco has really struggled in that position.

Q There's a week of the transfer window remaining - do you think it's going to be a busy at Pompey?

In fairness to Pompey they got the striker and central defender sorted early and it appears they’re getting a left wing-back sorted as well as sorting out the goalkeeping situation by getting a back up to Bazunu with Bass now at Bradford.

However, there’s clearly attacking and creativity problems, which perhaps they can resolve.

They’ve done the bulk of their work already so we’ll have to wait and see.

They clearly need more but will it realistically happen in a January window, which for all clubs is quieter than the summer?

I’m not sure, but we’ll just have to wait and see on that one.

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