The key talking points heading into Portsmouth's trip to Burton

We take a look at the key talking points heading into Pompey’s League One trip to Burton tomorrow (3pm).

Friday, 2nd October 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd October 2020, 6:32 pm

Different circumstances – but same result required

When Pompey last made the trip to the Pirelli Stadium, three points was the minimum requirement.

The Blues were still chasing League One automatic promotion towards the end of the 2018-19 season and were determined to stay in the race before it was mathematically impossible to go up.

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Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

How different things are this time around.

Instead, Pompey languish in the relegation places – albeit at the opposite end of the campaign – and haven't looked a side that will be in the race for the Championship so far.

They've picked up just two points in three games against Shrewsbury, Rochdale and Wigan – who are all likely to finish in the bottom half of the table.

As a result, the pressure Kenny Jackett that was already under has intensified. Many of those who previously were in support of the manager have now changed allegiance, with a vast amount of fans wanting him sacked.

The trip to Burton is the start of what's going to be a huge October.

Pompey are sticking with the boss for the meantime, though, ahead of eight matches this month.

Come the end of that period, dropped points at Burton may be insignificant if the Blues do indeed pick up and climb the table.

Nevertheless, it still feels like another maximum return is required on the bank of the River Trent.

Granted, it wouldn't change many supporters' views on whether Jackett should be axed as it's not just results they're unhappy about.

Even still, if Pompey are to be in the promotion picture this season they can't afford to give their rivals any further of a head start.

Characters are needed

While Kenny Jackett's bore the brunt of Pompey's lacklustre opening to the campaign, the players haven't escaped their share of criticism, either.

Going forward, in particular, the Blues have lacked any real sparkle or cohesion – a reason why they've netted just one league goal so far.

John Marquis spurned three good chances against Rochdale, while Ronan Curtis has yet to replicate the sort of form we know he's capable of.

Amid the doom and gloom, this is where Pompey need to show their mettle. Characters, determination and leaders are required.

Lee Brown might not be every fan's favourite player, but one thing he provides is leadership, experience and the willingness to bark orders. Those traits were absent against Wigan and he holds claims to the starting line-up in place of Cameron Pring.

Tom Naylor isn’t the most vociferous of captains but he has the wholehearted respect of his team-mates. When he makes a crunching tackle or a lung-busting interception, it sets the standard that others must follow.

Meanwhile, Michael Jacobs may not have been at the club for all that long. However, he has two League One promotions on his C.V. and needs to swiftly start providing the quality he did at Wolves and Wigan.

Finding the middle ground

Fans often having various opinions on football – that's why we love it so much.

But something the Fratton faithful can almost unanimously agree on is that Pompey's midfield hasn't influenced games enough this season.

Both are deep-lying midfielders, which has caused Pompey to lack drive, fizz and a goalscoring threat from the engine room.

Naylor and Morris have started the opening six games, but it wouldn't be a massive shock if there's a change.

The former is Pompey's skipper and an established starter so, if there will be a switch in personnel, then Morris is likely to make way.

If that’s the case then Kenny Jackett will have to decide whether to bring in either Ben Close or Andy Cannon.

Close offers a composed passing game as well as a goal threat but has only made one substitute appearance so far.

Cannon, meanwhile, provides energy and verve, although he's mainly been deployed in the number-10 role during his time at PO4.