Transfer window verdict: low-key deadline day highlights Portsmouth boss felt he's got squad to achieve promotion

The klaxon has gone, the transfer window slammed shut until January 1.

By Will Rooney
Monday, 2nd September 2019, 8:29 pm
John Marquis, left, and Marcus Harness arrived for big-money fees this summer. Picture: Robin Jones.
John Marquis, left, and Marcus Harness arrived for big-money fees this summer. Picture: Robin Jones.

Deadline day proved to be a low-key affair at Fratton Park.

In fact, there was scarcely anything at all to get excited about.

Kenny Jackett forewarned the Fratton faithful that activity was going to be minimal.

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John Marquis, left, and Marcus Harness arrived for big-money fees this summer. Picture: Robin Jones.

He was weighing a move for a midfielder but wasn’t emphatic when he made that statement after Saturday’s draw with Blackpool.

There was never going to be no repeat of 2017 when four fresh faces arrived and four departed.

Even 12 months ago, Joe Mason joined in the 11th hour on loan from Wolves.

But Jackett decided he’d already assembled a squad with the quality to launch a League One promotion assault this time around. 

The two substantial departures were exactly what fans expected this summer.

Matt Clarke was always going to leave – whether Pompey had been promoted last term or not.

The centre-back had forged himself the reputation as the best defender in League One and got his deserved move to Premier League Brighton.

After a lengthy saga, Jamal Lowe eventually completed his switch to Wigan.

Yet what supporters craved was Pompey to reinvest the cash they received for their two former prized assets.

And that’s what the Blues did. In total, eight new players were recruited.

The showpiece signing was undoubtedly John Marquis for a fee that could rise to £2m with add-ons.

The striker is one of the most prolific marksmen in the third tier, netting 67 goals across three campaigns for Doncaster.

It was the sort of switch which made opposition clubs and supporters throughout the division sit up and take note of – a statement of the Blues’ intentions.

What Pompey didn't have last season was an out-and-out goalscorer as Brett Pitman was regarded as a number 10.

That issue has been remedied.

Meanwhile, Marcus Harness joined as Lowe’s replacement from Burton for not far off seven figures.

He’s begun his Fratton career in scintillating fashion having bagged three goals in seven appearances and proved an adept successor for last term’s 17-goal top scorer. 

Clarke was always going to be irreplaceable. How do you replicate a player who’s quality defensively and can effortlessly sally forward with the ball at his feet in League One?

With Jack Whatmough also out until the new year, Jackett opted to recruit two new centre-backs.

Long-term admirer Paul Downing looks a shrewd free transfer from Blackburn, while Sean Raggett joined on a season-long loan from Norwich.

Raggett’s yet to display his best on the south coast but has been hampered by injury.

The Pompey boss is still searching for his favoured centre-back to settle down alongside Downing.

Christian Burgess and Tom Naylor have both featured in the role but Jackett may well feel Raggett’s the man once he’s up to speed.

The other arrival which excited was Ross McCrorie.

Regarded as a future Rangers captain, with Sunderland attempting to gazump Pompey to the midfielder, he’s the sort of player that sides with designs on reaching the Championship have.

Of the others, having Ellis Harrison – who joined for £450,000 from Ipswich – as a second-choice striker is fine option. 

Then there’s James Bolton and Ryan Williams, who’ve almost been forgotten.

The former returns tomorrow night against Crawley, while Williams isn’t too far away from fitness.

Once up to speed, they could both well be regular starters.

Pompey's opening to the campaign hasn’t been ideal having collected just five points from 15.

That’s a stark contrast from last year when the Blues were unbeaten at the same stage and dropped just two points.

Yet given Jackett didn't make one final move, he must feel his squad has the quality to deliver promotion.