Why Michael Jacobs can be the catalyst Portsmouth and its disillusioned supporters desperately need
It was a telling reflection of a dispirited fanbase that the signing of Michael Jacobs was greeted by many with cynicism.
The 28-year-old serial League One title winner arrived at Fratton Park on Monday to bolster the attacking capabilities of a Blues side which struggles to excite.
Only a third new face during a frustrating transfer window – and unquestionably the most important and high profile.
Yet the announcement instantly drew the assumption from some that Ronan Curtis was on his way. Others wrote off Jacobs as not a conventional number 10, thereby not the answer.
Then came the tongue-in-cheek comments about Kenny Jackett instructing the winger to operate at right-back or goalkeeper or centre-half. You’ve heard the jokes.
Hardly a glorious fanfare sounded by the Fratton faithful, who have been desperate for positive transfer news.
The truth is, however, there remains a worrying apathy around Fratton Park which will not be dispersed by any signing, no matter the calibre.
Supporters have become disillusioned by successive play-off defeats and the style of football implemented by a manager now on his fourth attempt to claim Blues promotion.
Saturday’s uninspiring goalless draw with a Shrewsbury side which finished 15th last season only strengthened the criticism.
Nonetheless, the discontent should not detract from what appears to be an excellent signing for Pompey.
Jacobs has previously been an integral part of three League One title-winning sides.
Described as a hard-working winger with the ability to dribble, create and score goals, he has amassed 54 appearances and seven goals in the Championship over the last two seasons.
Yet analysing his career, it is League One where he has truly excelled, during eye-catching spells with Wigan and also an all-conquering Wolves side managed by Jackett.
What’s more, the right footer can operate on either flank – and also in that fabled number 10 role which has long been a Pompey concern.
Granted, Jacobs primarily played out wide for the Latics, particularly on the left, cutting in onto his right foot to rattle off a shot.
However, he is familiar with the 4-2-3-1 system, having performed within it during Paul Cook’s three seasons at the DW Stadium helm.
The attacker himself is adamant he can serve as a number 10. Certainly there is no early suggestion of being uncomfortable with the role about to be asked of him.
Of course, the reason for his arrival is to resolve that long-running problem. As Blues boss, Jackett had never before recruited for that position – now he has Jacobs.
The 28-year-old will be challenged to inspire a team – and its fanbase. How this football club craves a catalyst.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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