Portsmouth's concerning League One points tally regression as they enter mammoth final third of the season
It was an unusually bullish statement made by the pragmatic Kenny Jackett – especially given the timing of it.
Despite it taking Pompey four games to pick up a maiden League One win of the 2020-21 season – a 4-2 triumph over Burton – the boss waxed lyrical about the squad he’d assembled for another promotion push.
‘We have got a talented group, potentially the most talented group I've had in my three years here,’ said Jackett when addressing the early on-field troubles.
‘I think there is a lot of potential in the group. Realising that potential is a big thing, but there is a lot of talent and ability in our side.’
It was difficult to argue how much quality, on paper, there was in the dressing room.
Bar Christian Burgess, Pompey had retained their regular starters from the previous campaign and added the likes of Michael Jacobs, Callum Johnson and Rasmus Nicolaisen.
However, with a third of fixtures remaining, the Blues have so far failed to fulfil that potential.
In fact, Jackett's side's points total of 52 points with 15 games to play has regressed compared to the previous two campaigns.
The Fratton faithful still rue a missed promotion opportunity in 2018-19.
Boasting Jamal Lowe and Matt Clarke in their ranks, Pompey's side was as strong as any in the third tier.
They were magnificent the first half of the season, blazing their way towards the Championship before suffering an almighty blow when Ben Thompson’s loan spell was cut short by Millwall.
Still, after a 1-1 draw at Plymouth, it took Jackett's third-placed men on to 59 points and three points outside the automatics after 31 matches.
The Blues would never recover from their mid-season slump, though, as they'd finish fourth before losing to Sunderland in the play-off semi-finals.
Pompey’s ambitions ended at the same point last term, only this time to Oxford on penalties.
There could have been few complaints when Jackett’s troops finished fifth after the season curtailed and the table decided by a points-per-game formula amid the coronavirus crisis.
Coventry were running away with the title, while Peterborough looked primed to finish second before missing out on a top-six spot altogether.
But even after Pompey lost 1-0 at Fleetwood, they were still a point better off than they are this time around.
With 15 games and 45 points to play for, there remains just enough time for Pompey to realise the potential Jackett pinpointed in the campaign’s infancy.