The truth about 'promotion failure' soundbite and Portsmouth boss amid fan furore

The manner of delivery can vary, some carefully served with military precision and others tossed into the ether with barely a moment’s consideration.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

But soundbites stick - and don’t those connected with Pompey over the years know all about that.

Kenny Jackett has a move for ‘summer football rather than winter football’ etched on his Fratton gravestone, after the shock call to use unpopular Bryn Morris over skipper Tom Naylor in the 2020 play-off failure against Oxford United.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Meanwhile, director and Tornante president Andy Redman found himself in the social media crossfire last year for suggesting Pompey, in the essence of those who enter any league, have the ultimate aim of winning it.

The oft-stated ambition of a top-six finish was overlooked in favour of that quotable nugget, as the summit became a speck on the horizon amid the wholly understandable anger of the last days of Danny Cowley’s reign.

Now the 2023-24 season has its early entry in the event of things not going to plan, as the club’s movers and shakers joined BBC Radio Solent’s fans’ forum on Monday night.

It was there Pompey boss John Mousinho gave an hour of his time to answer questions to fans, with no subject off limits. One of those expertly delivered by a young follower asked would the campaign constitute failure in the event of promotion failure, with Mousinho giving a typically detailed response.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It’s when a strand of that was reported on social media the problems started.

Pompey boss John Mousinho has attracted criticism from some fans over his comments this week at at BBC Radion Solent fans' forum. Pic: Sarah StandingPompey boss John Mousinho has attracted criticism from some fans over his comments this week at at BBC Radion Solent fans' forum. Pic: Sarah Standing
Pompey boss John Mousinho has attracted criticism from some fans over his comments this week at at BBC Radion Solent fans' forum. Pic: Sarah Standing

‘We desperately want to be competitive, but we won’t sit here and say it’s a failure if we don’t get promoted,’ Mousinho was quoted as saying.

That position was clarified by the fact the season will afford context, perhaps in the way promotion failure through a last-minute play-off final defeat will be seen differently to a 12th-placed finish. They were also words which came amid others such as ‘we desperately want to get promoted’ and ‘we have to be better than the competition’.

Solent’s excellent Pompey reporting isn’t one based upon sensation, but the soundbite inevitably was seized upon as it then echoed around the Pompey Twittersphere.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The angry memes were out in force along with statements such as ‘he should be sacked for that comment alone’, ‘have a word with yourself’ and ‘gone by Christmas’.

Those vocal elements sick to death of League One purgatory like us all, perhaps didn’t necessarily take time to scratch beneath the surface as their blood boiled in response, though. All totally understandable stuff, of course, but tellingly there wasn’t a single sign of dissent from those present in the Victory Lounge as Mousinho uttered his words. Perhaps because they got the whole picture.

The good news is the man at the heart of it all would likely have been unaware of the whole furore. And even if he was, the truth is he probably couldn’t have cared less.

What? Not cared about the fans’ thoughts? Outrageous!

Well, of course, the 38-year-old does and Mousinho has shown himself to be every inch a progressive, considerate modern manager in his first year seven months at Fratton. Extensive time has been afforded the media to ensure fans are informed with a refreshing honesty - function and supporter group appearances have been constant.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It’s just that Mousinho has also shown a very clear modus operandi - one based on focussing on what’s most important and not getting bogged down in factors he can’t control.

The truth is not all of his predecessors can say the same, which has undoubtedly been to their detriment.

Micromanaging, obsessing over controlling the narrative and playing the Pompey game of thrones aren’t the traits of the most most successful incumbents of the Fratton hot seat.

Getting things right on the pitch, creating a group who are in harmony and knowing everything else falls in place when those fundamentals are sound has been the hallmarks of our best leaders.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

We eagerly wait to see how things pan out in a League One season redolent of opportunity, like no other in recent memory. History tells us failure can make these quotes your Pompey epitaph - but no negative soundbites are exhumed amid success.

Creating the conditions for that outcome is what counts over a few words.