When the cut-off point looks to be for Portsmouth's backing of Kenny Jackett

The board’s support for Kenny Jackett remains.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 6:00 pm

Yet, with each passing defeat the greater the challenge becomes for that staunch backing to stay in place.

On Sunday, The News revealed the position of the club’s owners is to stand by the 59-year-old in the face of a defeat justifiably ranked as a modern low.

The sentiment then was Jackett is their man and is in place for the season.

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But, even though there’s doubts over their ambition among the conspiracy theorists, the target of achieving a play-off spot is the minimum aim for the Tornante Company.

And the further that slips from Pompey’s grasp, the less likely the chance of their manager reaching the end of his contract becomes.

There was no surprise what happened 72 hours or so on from the Sixfields debacle.

Sunderland have the right kind of impetus at the right kind of moment, while their opponents are crippled by their own doubts and apparent indifference to what’s unfolding just when it matters most.

Pompey boss Kenny Jackett

To the outsiders like Sky Sports commentator, Alan Parry, perhaps it looks harsh and the ‘knives are out’ for Jackett as he faces ‘hostile’ questions and reporting from the local press.

Or maybe, we are doing our jobs and tackling the issues quite rightly demanded of us by supporters, while being aware of the need for decency and respect in the manner in which we operate.

Ultimately, one win in seven, four points from 21 or an average 0.57 points per game in that time paints a damning picture, and warrants criticism. That run arrives nearly four years into a managerial tenure, which now has observers asking how many steps forward have been taken on the pitch in that time?

No one knows that warrants critical inspection more than the Pompey manager.

And if it’s the prospect of missing out on the play-offs which will be the managerial cut-off point for the board, we are now close to arriving at that juncture.

The League One table may show the team still occupying the sixth and final play-off spot but by Saturday tea-time at Wembley they could be 10th, with Blackpool having the games in hand to move past them in the table.

What the league table doesn’t show, of course, is the rate of decline.

It was less than 11 weeks ago Pompey resided at the top of League One, were winning games and on a run which took them to the brink of a club record for league minutes without conceding.

Now, individual mistakes at the back riddle a side who are devoid of attacking confidence. By any stretch, that’s a drop-off which merits serious questions being asked.

The fan apathy towards their manager is now so deeply entrenched in Pompey’s support there seems no way back.

But what it ultimately comes down to, is does the board have a conviction their man is best placed to get the dressing room believing in themselves again? And if not, who is.

Let’s be clear, some of the managerial suggestions forwarded have driven straight through La La Land, bound instead to join the lunatics as the asylum.

Eddie Howe on a short-term deal until the end of the season. Frank Lampard on a week-to-week contract.

The names aren’t outlandish enough, you see, so they need to be associated with the kind of terms managers who’ve been reputed to earn salaries north of £3.5m would of course sign…

Most fans know such notions are ludicrous, of course.

Any view there’s a figure in the building who can go and do a better job than Jackett, isn’t a sentiment shared by the Pompey hierarchy. So forget Sean O’Driscoll or Liam Daish going into the first-team dressing room on a short-term basis.

In the event of a sacking, it would leave the board having to make a quickfire move on a long-term appointment. Not the kind of decision the owners have a history of making.

A look at the possible contenders at present doesn’t offer a list of readily available candidates, either.

Envious glances can be cast at Ipswich’s Paul Cook appointment, but after what went before tainted the Scouser’s view of Pompey that’s never been a realistic option.

Likewise, a return for Michael Appleton appeals but Lincoln have just tied down their manager to a four-year deal to fend off suitors.

Russell Martin seems to have his fans but finds himself on a worse run than Jackett at MK Dons currently, while the Cowley brothers get their mentions despite themselves being proponents of the ‘Jackettball’ criticised by many supporters.

Cheltenham’s Michael Duff is making a name for himself in League Two and, of managers out of work, Neil Harris ticks boxes but has a close proximity to the current incumbent. Then the field opens to the usual next manager staples.

How far Pompey would travel down the road of paying compensation for a new manager remains a theoretical question, for now, of course.

But no matter how consistent the message of support remains for Jackett, we may be just a couple of league disappointments from that being revisited.

A message from the editor

On Saturday, March 13 Pompey will finally get their day at Wembley.

To celebrate the Blues’ place in the rearranged 2020 EFL Trophy Final, The News has launched an offer that gets you 25% off all our Sports subscriptions.

You can choose your perfect Sports subscription here and use the discount code ROADTOWEMBLEY25 to get the latest news from Fratton Park for less. Offer runs until midnight on March 15.