What a whirlwind week of transfer news reveals about Portsmouth's promotion ambitions
When Marcus Harness let fly with a stoppage-time thunderbolt last Tuesday he had no comprehension what the moment would do for his career.
Nor would Pompey’s latest summer arrival been aware of what it would reveal about his new club’s mentality when it comes to making the adjustments needed to gain promotion this season.
But it turns out the 23-year-old’s ‘parting gift’ to Burton Albion was the catalyst for a sequence of events which told us plenty about not only the Blues’ attitude to business this term, but their willingness to learn from past shortcomings.
Of course, the future of Jamal Lowe factors into the narrative, but after a week in we’ve been left punch-drunk by the incessant battering over his future it’s perhaps best not to focus solely on that sizeable chunk of the tale.
Within a couple of weeks of saying the four wingers he chose from last season was one too many, Kenny Jackett has taken his options to the same total with Harness’ ‘substantial’ arrival.
One swing of a talented right foot loaded with the potential sparked the chain reaction for that to take place.
Harness, of course, is a player Pompey know all about. They’ve played against him, he’s impressed and they’ve tracked his progress for some time now.
But that’s where things stood, until his late effort against Premier League new boys Sheffield United really pricked the attention of some of the other sides also coveting the player.
The word came back to Pompey that if they were serious about the versatile attacking talent the time to move was nigh. And they didn’t hesitate.
They were the events which led to Harness chucking a load of clobber in a backpack and heading south to be snapped by a fan who perfectly timed his gym visit to Pompey’s training ground, hours before the deal was wrapped up.
The fee was a significant one and although that may not seem massively telling with the club flush after Matt Clarke’s £4m-plus exit for Brighton, it does reveal Pompey aren’t paying lip-service to the model of recruiting promising talent with a resale value. This, after all, was one of the biggest figures in recent years splashed on a player many casual fans would never have heard of.
The fact Jackett was able, and chose to, rapidly mobilise was also insightful. There was little hesitation in making the move quickly and decisively, and that seems to be a step towards remedying the problems which hampered Pompey last year.
With figures approaching £1m mentioned, and the suggestion it could one day go close to earning the club he’s spent nine years with a record fee, it appears Harness has come at a premium.
It also shows the lengths the Blues boss is willing to go to not being left short this term.
There’s no January recalls to be worried about in this piece of business, as Jackett revealingly alluded to when discussing the player.
‘We want good options and we want to plan if we can for the season if we can,’ the Pompey boss said. ‘That’s what we’ve learnt really. (over losing players in January).
‘We have a model where we understand we have to sell sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with that. Liverpool spent a lot of money and are European champions, but they’ve lost Sterling, Suarez and Coutinho. Big players.
‘So as you regenerate getting players on the way up is really important.
‘You can’t always get them exactly when you want them, maybe you need them October or February but the summer is where the value is.
‘I don’t know if there will be bids with the Jamal Lowe situation, but we want a model where we can bring in lads on the way up and have good choices.
‘Above all our plan is to have a good season. To do that we need more than 11.’
When naturally drifting into Lowe’s situation, it became clearer through Jackett’s comments Pompey were happy to make the Harness signing even without landing the £3m they are demanding for their prized asset.
Wigan quite possibly could’ve viewed the latest business as strengthening their hand in negotiations.
Around these parts, however, it’s seen as a move which gives an insurance if a disaffected player remains in the event of the transfer trail from the DW Stadium going completely cold.
With Jackett this week referencing weaknesses in other areas of his squad as a factor in calling off the hunt for a number 10, we could yet see Lowe’s exit fund a move for a very different new face.
Similarly, this column has already championed the impact of the 25-year-old remaining next season. We all know what a destructive force a fully-focussed Jamal Lowe will be at this level in the coming months. Pompey are both unflinching in their valuation and aware of the benefits of the player staying.
As tough as it may be with all the distracting noise from that transfer saga, much can be garnered from viewing the Harness deal in isolation.
Piece the clues together and you can see business which is Pompey taking significant steps towards ensuring the issues which proved costly last season aren’t seen again.