Stronger or weaker out of the window? The Portsmouth signings with a point to prove

It’s Kenny Jackett’s oft-repeated reply when tackling the subject of the transfer window.

Thursday, 31st January 2019, 9:59 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 8:26 pm
James Vaughan represented Pompey's fifth new arrival in January. Picture: Portsmouth FC

‘With any window we’ll target it to try and come out stronger than we went in,’ has been the go-to line from the Pompey boss on the many, many occasions he’s dealt with talk on the topic over the past couple of months.

The debate among fans as they brought their January shopping to a close will now be is that the case for their side?

Six in and five out are the bare figures on the business, with the battle lines now drawn for the race for the Championship.

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James Vaughan represented Pompey's fifth new arrival in January. Picture: Portsmouth FC

Pompey will have a 26-strong battalion as they begin their fight on three fronts, a number supplemented by a couple of promising cadets.

The departments appear well stocked with reserves in place, after Jackett was faced with having to be reactive to the unexpected hit of losing all four of his loan signings.

So the Blues certainly head out of the window ‘stronger’ in terms of bodies for the challenges ahead.

It’s gaining an accurate steer on the quality of Jackett’s squad, as a before and after, where the debate intensifies.

The focus for business has honed in on attacking areas following the losses of Andre Green, David Wheeler and Joe Mason in recent weeks.

Their successors offer a very different set of attributes, with the striking department bolstered by the arrivals of Omar Bogle and James Vaughan.

Unlike many signings since Jackett took charge, you will not need an encyclopedic knowledge of English football to be familiar with these names.

It’s no secret Jackett wanted another attacking addition comfortable with leading the line on his own. Those who witnessed Omar Bogle’s 45-minute debut at Luton will certainly be confident the Blues now have that.

Vaughan’s arrival does shift the attacking emphasis, however, with the 30-year-old viewed as an out-and-out goal-getter. That means with Brett Pitman and Oli Hawkins, there are now four men vying for one starting spot in Jackett’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

Green and Wheeler are gone with Andy Cannon, Lloyd Isgrove and Viv Solomon-Otabor the new options behind the leading forward.

Convincing arrivals they aren’t here as back-up for Jamal Lowe and Ronan Curtis would, no doubt, have been a tough sell for the Pompey boss, but, in Isgrove in particular these are players with a point to prove.

By any reasonable measurement, then, January has seen an upgrade in striking options, with the attacking-midfield pool given a welcome, late flourish with Otabor’s leftfield arrival. 

It’s dealing with the hit of losing one of the leading lights of the season, after Ben Thompson’s loan return to Millwall which is the biggest ask, however.

So there’s a lot resting on the shoulders of Bryn Morris as Jackett’s men go out to finish the job they’ve started.

We’re told the midfielder possesses a maturity beyond his 22 years. Although Dion Donohue highlighted himself as a viable alternative on Tuesday night, Morris is going to need all of his nous to make the kind of mark his predecessor did. We wish him luck.

The late-night talk among supporters was given a welcome shot in the arm going into the weekend, as Pompey were finally given the chance to go through their social-media teasers with Otabor not let out of the snow-covered bag.

That upbeat chat among fans tonight is certainly a long way from when the flak flew at the end of the Eisner's first full transfer window 12 months ago.

Amid that chatter about the recruitment, the significance of Pompey coming out of January with their holy trinity of assets intact shouldn’t be underestimated.

Matt Clarke, Ronan Curtis and Jamal Lowe have remained when losing any of the three would have been a dagger blow to promotion ambitions.

If they are to stay beyond the summer, we now need to see the raft of new faces have a meaningful impact on making the Championship dream a reality.