Two years on - what Portsmouth fans really think of their manager

Portsmouth manager Kenny Jackett. Picture: Ben Queenborough
Portsmouth manager Kenny Jackett. Picture: Ben Queenborough
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Imagine a scenario where a manager side produced a points return which more often than not delivered promotion. 

Then he put silverware in the trophy cabinet and gave supporters a Wembley memory they’d always cherish - and some of his team’s younger followers the best day they’ve had with their football club.

Picture all of this being set to a backdrop of progress for his team on the pitch, with resources not as significant as many of his rivals liked to portray.

And at the end of it all, there were enough murmurs and grumbles to suggest a reasonable element of his team’s support thought he wasn’t the man for his job.

Yes, it appears Kenny Jackett is playing to a tough crowd at Pompey. Or probably to be fairer, one with vocal hecklers who’ve got it in for him.

But it’s not an audience which has lost its sense of perspective about what is taking place at its club on the pitch.

READ MORE: Bogle open to Pompey return

The noises being made around PO4 since the season came to a disappointing and ultimately underwhelming close 20 days ago, had been significant enough to warrant further inspection.

So a quick-fire straw poll was launched to gauge opinion on whether fans believed their manager was the man to take their club forward.

The outcome saw 72 per cent of the 1,562 responses reply in the affirmative: an overwhelming majority. 

Yet strangely it was those who didn’t believe Jackett was the man - between a quarter and third of those kind enough to answer - which drew the attention.

Quite simply, why?

First it’s worth highlighting Twitter was the social media platform in which the question was raised, and for all the fans engaging with each other there it's not a totally representative cross-section of the Blues supporter base.

But the reaction there was largely in keeping with what's been heard around the city over the past few weeks from Jackett's critics.

It seems by far and away the most oft-repeated criticism is over Jackett's brand of football.

The terms for it ranged on a sliding scale of generosity from 'old school' and 'direct' to 'Jackettball' and 'hoofball'. The badge of honour for much of the season which was Pompey's s***housery is nowhere to be seen.

The notion the Blues are not particularly easy on the eye warrants a little further inspection, given it was barely uttered for the first half of the campaign, as a six-point advantage was opened up at the top.

Few who watched those away performances which barely saw a foot out of place, would've had a leg to stand on if they'd chose to criticise those textbook counter-attacking displays.

It's been a different story, however, at Fratton, where the vast majority of star and crescent followers pay their hard-earned money to watch their team.

The sight of Pompey labouring was a recurring one, with the issue of breaking down sides with limited ambition resulting in the weakest return of the top six.

It's hardly a new phenomenon, however, and one it can't be put down to moving the ball forward more quickly, as opposed to a progressive build-up. Just ask Paul Cook.

Cook took an ugly barracking at times on the way to delivering the League Two title two years ago, as he stuck to his passing principles amid similar difficulties.

There's little doubt the manner in which the season foundered and ended with a whimper lost Jackett admirers, too.

Many were left perplexed by his team's lack of adventure against Sunderland in the play-offs, ostensibly in the second leg as the tie ebbed away.

Those who were left so deflated as Jackett failed to use his three subs, even though taking the game to extra-time would've given him a fourth, would no doubt have preferred their football club to go out on their sword. It's a valid criticism, although hindsight's a wonderful thing.

Less reasoned, though, is using the Pompey boss' measured and level-headed demeanour as stick to beat him with.

The calls for more passion on the touchline were replaced with demands for his predecessor to show restraint in the darker moments of his reign. These issues are never aired amid success.

There are those who feel the whole debate about Jackett is contrived, as are questions about Pompey's ambition.

Chief executive Mark Catlin noted he doesn't hear much said about either as he continues his dialogue with the faithful, such as meeting with the fans' conference.

It's worth noting, however, the audience at such a forum is one which takes a deeper interest in all facets of their football club.

Consequently they are perhaps more understanding and aware of both the minutiae of the Blues' back story and the 'brick-by-brick' ethos of the owners. Jackett is central to the latter.

Those who are more interested in what they pay to see every other week, and they are far greater in number, are the ones more likely to base their assessments on being entertained.

Ultimately, the people who count remain stoically supportive of the man they appointed two years ago on Sunday.

The word is that would've remained the case, even if the season had blown up as spectacularly as it looked it may at one stage.

Even as irritation turned into angst and eventually morphed into fury through that bleak and decisive two-month hunt for a league win, the hand at tiller was steady.

A knee-jerk reaction would've been verging on ludicrous, but it's been seen in similar conditions in recent months - just ask old Pompey favourite Darren Moore - and, yes, the calls were there.

'You get storms which blow you off course but you batten down the hatches, get through it and come out the other side,' Catlin said on Tuesday.

‘We won’t let a storm deviate us from where we want to go.’

So, on the second anniversary of his voyage, the captain of HMS Pompey enjoys support from the bulk of his crew.

But you get the feeling calm waters are now needed for the next leg of the journey to the Championship, to avoid that backing turning to dissent and desertion.