Portsmouth transfer window: Jordan Cross answers six key questions on Blues' January business and it's implications moving forward

Jordan Cross was in the Pompey Talk hot seat today as we asked him for his verdict on the latest goings on at Pompey.

By Mark McMahon
Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 3:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 4:06 pm

Here’s what he had to say on the following….

Q First and foremost, what’s your verdict on the transfer window just gone?

That’s funny, I think you asked me that question a week ago and my verdict then was it was looking promising.

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I think that echoed most supporters’ views, that Pompey were shaping up well – getting most of the players they wanted shifted out and players who looked sturdy additions coming in.

The caveat to that, of course, was the expectation of two still to arrive on deadline day. He got one, though.

So the squad’s lighter, one lighter in terms of bodies.

We’re down to 20, and we all know what happened to Shaun Williams in terms of Monday, which means we’re already down to 19.

From left: Shaun Williams. Danny Cowley, Michael Eisner and Aiden O'Brien

So in terms of depth, there’s an obvious concern there, especially off the back of a Covid pandemic, where people are still picking up Covid.

Michael Jacobs was the latest, so that can still happen.

I think there is a concern there and certainly Danny Cowley will argue that we’re in better shape in terms of quality.

But there’s a concern for me in terms of depth moving forward.

Q You mentioned Shaun Williams. Does that mean Danny Cowley will rue missing out on the midfielder he wanted on deadline day? And just how concerning is the squad depth?

I know Shaun Williams is not the most popular player but he’s played a lot of football this season.

Danny Cowley has reservations about him playing three games in a week, which we’re about to do.

Similarly, it’s the case with Louis Thompson, while Ryan Tunnicliffe started the season very well, disappeared somewhat and has had injury problems himself.

So that leaves Joe Morrell, really.

I think Danny was really keen on Jamie Lindsay and he might be prepared to revisit that one in the summer.

But he’s been immediately exposed in that area and Danny Cowley chose his words very carefully on Monday night.

His frustrations were palpable about the transfer window.

He said they worked as hard as they could with what they had available – and that’s the words to bold up there!

It was thinly veiled his frustrations and I’m sensing some angst between himself and the Pompey hierarchy over money and not quite being able to get the additions that were wanted.

It’s not a new thing between managers and the board but, choosing my words carefully, there’s a disconnect between the two groups there.

It’s not a new thing for that to happen, but it’s very palpable at the moment.

Q Danny Cowley always said he wanted to be stronger leaving the window than when he entered it. Do you and he believe he has achieved that goal?

Pound for pound, he probably think he has.

Obviously, in terms of bodies, no. With seven out and five in, that’s two less.

O’Brien, I must be honest, feels like a short-term fix for me.

It’s not the name many supporters were hoping for – but it’s the midfield area that is the concern.

And although Cowley will argue about planning ahead and being in the best position in terms of squad planning, for me, what happened in the window –and again, I’m going to have to chose my words very carefully – if it wasn’t a white flag for the season, it wasn’t far off it.

It does feel to me that with the gap growing to the play-offs, the business as a whole suggests that the season is virtually gone and we’re now looking ahead.

That’s represents a huge frustration for me.

I don’t think we had a free hit this season. Some people think we can have a season of transition but I don’t agree with that – and I’m sure that’s the same with the majority of Pompey’s fan base.

Q 13 of the current squad are out of contract at the end of the season. That mean’s another overhaul is needed in the summer. That’s can’t be good, can it?

It’s not a complete overhaul and Danny Cowley has offered some stats to back that up.

But there’s still a lot of work to be done there.

The ones out of contract, there are options on the vast majority, with the exception of what’s been stated publically, Sean Raggett, Shaun Williams and Ollie Webber, which has not be detailed yet.

But the likes of Hackett, Harness, Reid, Jacobs, Johnson and Mingi – there are options on these players. So that puts an element of control on Pompey and there is that to consider.

I don’t think it (overhaul) will be as sweeping as it was last year but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

In terms of the loans that have come in, Danny Cowley has said he wouldn’t be able to sign Mahlon Romeo, while Gavin Bazunu is not going to be here moving forward.

They have been great players to have but in terms of the longer-term picture, there has to be question marks about how good those loans are for the bigger Pompey picture.

What about Alex Bass? Is he Danny Cowley’s man for the long term?

If he is, then why hasn’t he been developed more this season?

I think there’s a big question mark that he is Danny Cowley’s man for the long term.

But I can see why people would look at that and ask questions about the squad planning situation.

Q There does appear to be a lot of disappointed fans out there at present. Are you sensing that vibe, too?

That taps into an article I wrote on Wednesday, asking about the atmosphere at Fratton Park, which for a lot of fans has been flat for some time.

There’s been frustrations aimed at a number of directions – at Danny Cowley, Michael Eisner and even towards Kenny Jackett!

Some fans even want to blame other fans as well.

It’s not a great time at the moment and, ultimately, for all the work that is being done behind the scenes and on the stadium, it’s always been the way that what happens on the pitch sets the mood.

And when Pompey, for me, are sleepwalking to mid-table obscurity, it’s a desperately disappointing feeling to have for the supporters and I can see why they’re frustrated.

Next season will be their sixth season in League One and 11th in the bottom two tiers.

That’s desperate stats, while the form’s not great at home, either.

They’re struggling to score goals and struggling to win games.

Throw all that in the melting pot and you’ve got the consternation amongst the support base at the moment.

And for me, I can totally understand why.

Q Could the Eisners have done more to help Danny Cowley in the transfer window?

A good proportion of the supporters think Michael Eisner should have done more.

But, some context on that – I think you might see the board come out on the front foot on this in the coming days and weeks.

They are adamant that the playing budget is higher than what it ever was under Kenny Jackett and Danny Cowley has been given more to work with.

Cowley has perhaps made some noises to the contrary during his time as manager, which has then been picked up on by supporters.

I reckon it’s somewhere in the region of £4m to 4.5m, the playing budget, which is healthy by League One standards.

Another thing which has been said is that Pompey and the Eisners are doing things on the cheap.

I can see why fans are frustrated about the signings, but using Aiden O’Brien’s move from Sunderland as a stick to beat the Eisners with probably isn’t a fair one.

The fact that Sunderland are paying a portion of his wages has been seen as the Eisners doing it on the cheap, but that’s just standard practice in every deal of that nature. Paul Downing to Rochdale, Ellis Harrison to Fleetwood – they’re similar situations. Pompey are still contributing to their wages.

So I don’t think it’s quite right to blame the Eisner’s on that.

Perhaps, though, with some justification supporters could say ‘we know you’re developing excellent facilities off the pitch, but with a little bit more of a push, perhaps it would have got Pompey over the line this season’.

That could have been the nudge to get Pompey right in the promotion picture.

As it is, get ready for another season in League One, get ready for Accrington away, get ready for those long trips to backwaters.

The Pompey fans are loyal and they’ll do it, but it is immensely disappointing to feel that there is no progress from a year ago, in terms of the team’s position.