What's worse than one blank Pompey Saturday? You guessed it...

I have never been a fan of international breaks, and when one comes along that is followed by a second successive blank Pompey Saturday, it really is hell on Earth.

By Steve Bone
Friday, 25th March 2022, 11:00 am
Gareth Southgate peers into the middle distance to see if he can spot any sign of Pompey's next fixture / Picture: Getty
Gareth Southgate peers into the middle distance to see if he can spot any sign of Pompey's next fixture / Picture: Getty

As I’ve said here before, I am a firm believer that once the domestic football season starts, it should carry on uninterrupted until it finishes – stopping only on weekends that bring more than a foot of snow on all pitches or a biblical-level downpour.

International matches should all be played on Wednesday nights (no live coverage needed, but highlights shared between Sportsnight and Midweek Sports Special will suffice) with squads getting together on the Monday morning and going back to their clubs on the Thursday. Thus, no need for any blank weekends in the domestic leagues.

Now we are in the middle of a looooooong break. No Premier League, no Championship, no more Pompey action until a week next Tuesday, partly because our squad is fortunate enough to house a few internationals and partly because Rotherham are unavailable a week later.

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How are we coping? Well I'm not sure I am.

These enforced breaks have become more common in the past couple of years because of Covid – and you have to admit they don’t appear to suit Pompey.

Last season Kenny Jackett’s team were rattling along nicely in December, beating the likes of Peterborough, Ipswich and Hull – then Covid struck and January was the beginning of the end, both for our promotion hopes and for Jackett.

This term brought a similar setback. Again, the Blues’ late-year form was good – and again it was brought to a shuddering halt by a three-week break at the very end of 2021.

Maybe this one might have the opposite effect. We'd already run into a bit of a brick wall before the break with only two points from three games against Ipswich, Plymouth and Wycombe, so maybe we'll come out the other side in winning form.

What to do on the vacant Saturdays, starting tomorrow? My recommendation would be to go and watch one of our local non-league teams. If you like it, you’ll never have to fear an international break again.