Portsmouth 10-match verdict: There's quality to build momentum - but Kenny Jackett has to impart his knowledge fast to overcome attacking shortfalls
It was a start to the campaign that Paul Downing wasn’t too concerned about.
After five games, Pompey had picked up just five points and sat 18th in the League One table.
Yet the defender declared it was too early to pass judgment.
Instead, he called for fans to wait until the 10-match mark before giving their verdicts.
‘With having so many games called off, it’s been stop-start and I haven’t personally looked at the table,’ he said before the Blues’ game against Burton last month.
‘For us, it would be a bit unfair and we probably need to be judged over 10 games.’
Kenny Jackett’s men currently languish in 16th spot, with 13 points – winning three, drawing four and losing three – to their name.
For a side with designs on automatic promotion, it’s been a lacklustre start to the campaign, to say the least.
Pompey’s attacking deficiencies have undoubtedly been their main shortfall.
Despite netting 83 league goals last term, the Blues’ threat in the final third in 2019-20 has jettisoned, scoring only 12 times so far.
The loss of last-term’s 17-goal top-scorer Jamal Lowe to Wigan was a blow, but Jackett’s options overall looked stronger following the conclusion of the summer transfer window.
Pompey have yet to fully click and build a free-flowing rapport going forward, however.
John Marquis arriving for a fee north of £1m represented a statement of intent – the sort of signing the Fratton faithful coveted, and it sent a message out to the division.
But the Blues have failed to play to his strengths and give him the service that saw him plunder 67 goals for Doncaster across three seasons.
His performance coming off the bench for Brett Pitman against Gillingham suggests his confidence has taken a hit.
Marcus Harness has been a bright spark and Ellis Harrison has garnered plaudits.
On the whole, though, attacks have lacked craft, guile and creativity to really penetrate sides from open play.
In defence, the departures of Matt Clarke and Nathan Thompson – to Brighton and Peterborough respectively – impacted Pompey in the early stages of the campaign.
Those problems have been remedied in recent weeks. Christian Burgess and Sean Raggett are looking a solid partnership, while James Bolton is improving game by game after initially being troubled by groin and ankle injuries.
Postponements have also caused disruptions and the Blues have played at least one game fewer than every team bar Burton.
If Pompey were to win their their matches in hand over sixth-placed Blackpool, they’d be in the play-offs.
Jackett pinpointed a few weeks back that only Ipswich appear to have got things right so far as the division remains wide open.
The boss stressed a club the size of Pompey can swiftly build momentum if they get on a winning run.
In truth, they have the calibre of players, but it requires Jackett to find the right formula.
He’s rued the lack of creativity on multiple occasions this campaign - most recently against Gillingham.
Ultimately, though, the onus is falling on the boss to find the solution on the training ground, with apathy among the Fratton faithful becoming prominent.
Now Jackett has to impart all of his experience and knowledge to overcome those who doubt he’s the right man who can steer Pompey to success.