The Portsmouth player who's beaten the boo boys and has to remain undisputed first choice
Lee Brown was well aware the pitchforks being sharpened when he put pen to paper on a new deal at Fratton Park last summer.
‘The fans were really buzzing,’ he quipped when speaking after the first friendly of pre-season against Norwich under-23s.
Despite being vice-skipper, a senior pro and a highly-respected dressing room figure, significant sections of fans wanted to see him out the door.
When linked with Championship duo Rotherham and Wycombe, along with League One rivals Hull, his knockers would have happily sent him packing and paid his petrol money to boot.
Alas, they didn't get their wish. And, in truth, the overwhelming majority must be glad they didn't.
In a turbulent, inconsistent season, the former Bristol Rovers man has been one of the few consistent performers for the Blues.
The anti-Brown brigade was founded last season when his performances took a noticeable dip after a competent maiden campaign at PO4.
Even when others were also underperforming around him, he was public enemy number one more often that not.
There were mitigating circumstances behind his below-part displays, however. An Achilles injury bad enough to need a walking stick around his home meant he couldn't hit the heights he was capable of. Eventually, he underwent the knife in Sweden.
But by the time Brown made a full recovery, Steve Seddon had fully endeared himself to the supporters.
The Birmingham loanee’s marauding displays and dead-ball deliveries meant Brown's stock sunk even lower when confined to the bench. Seddon was the blue-eyed boy.
Yet with 11 games to go and a bid for the play-offs finely poised almost a year later, there can't be too many members of the Fratton faithful who don’t regard him as undisputed left-back once again.
Fully recovered from his Achilles nightmare, Brown's displays this term have resembled those of the 2018-19 season.
His defensive nous has been superb, back-post protection astute and he's provided a constant outlet going forward down the flank.
In Saturday's 2-1 defeat of Ipswich, a canny piece of skill on the touchline not only kept the ball alive but helped yield Marcus Harness' match-winner just 10 seconds later.
Based on the evidence, the 30-year-old is at his pinnacle when he has a sustained run in the team.
During the first half of this season, he was clear first choice ahead of Cam Pring when fit, which allowed him to thrive.
However, after Charlie Daniels' arrival in January, Kenny Jackett’s experiment of switching him and Brown almost every game had a negative impact.
Neither could build any sort of impetus nor build rapports with the players around them as Pompey faltered and Jackett eventually lost his job.
On what we've seen since Daniels has arrived, he's not hit the heights many expected being a former Premier League veteran who excelled during the first half of the campaign with Shrewsbury.
Brown was given the nod for the Cowleys’ first game in the driving seat. Providing he doesn’t sustain a setback, it has to stay that way.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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