Pressure mounting on Shrewsbury boss ahead of League One trip to Portsmouth

It was a predicament Kenny Jackett found himself in at the beginning of the season.

Thursday, 13th February 2020, 8:00 am
Updated Thursday, 13th February 2020, 9:45 am

Now Shrewsbury counter-part Sam Ricketts is the latest League One manager to come under fire as his side prepare to visit to Fratton Park on Saturday.

From Jackett to Sunderland's Phil Parkinson to Ipswich's Paul Lambert, there have been plenty of bosses up and down the third tier who've been on the end of fan flak this term.

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And they couldn’t have made a better start to the campaign – not that Blues fans need reminding.

Pompey brought the curtain up on 2019-20 with a 1-0 loss at New Meadow, with Ryan Giles’ wonder strike proving the difference.

And while it was Wycombe who surprisingly charged out the gates to set the pace at Christmas, Shrewsbury were happily ensconced among chasing pack.

They sat on the same points total of 31 as Pompey, well poised to pick up the pieces if contenders began to wilt during the uphill finish.

Shrewsbury Town manager Sam Ricketts. Picture: Simon Davies

Yet the Shrews’ 1-0 victory over Blackpool on December 21 was their last in the third tier.

Shrewsbury have been in free fall since, having failed to win a league game in their past nine – and amassing just four points in the process.

Of course, they reached the fourth round of the FA Cup, holding Premier League champions-elect Liverpool to a 2-2 draw before suffering a narrow 1-0 loss in the replay at Anfield.

By Ricketts own admission, though, that’s caused Shrewsbury’s league form to falter further.

They suffered a 2-0 home defeat to Accrington on Tuesday, leaving the New Meadow side closer to the relegation zone than the top six.

Some frustrated fans let their feelings known to Ricketts, booing as he applauding them at full-time.

‘We're the same. We're doing everything we can to try to turn this around,’ he told the Shropshire Star.

‘We were superb up until Christmas. We can't do anything about it now but the FA Cup - as brilliant as it was - has really hurt us as well.’

It was a position Jackett found himself in during the early part of the season. Contingents of the Fratton faithful called for his head following loses at Wycombe and AFC Wimbledon.

The boss has turned things around, though. The 1-0 defeat at Coventry was only Pompey’s third since the reverse at Kingsmeadow on October 19 and they sit in the play-off places.

Jackett will undoubtedly have sympathy for Ricketts, having been in charge of the Shrewsbury chief when managing both Swansea and Wolves.

However, there'll be little room for sentiment at Fratton Park.

With the automatic promotion race wide open, the Blues will be looking to compound more misery on Ricketts and his Shrews troops.