Advertisement

Analysis: What will Pompey look like next season?

Portsmouth manager John Mousinho during the League One match between Port Vale and Portsmouth at Vale Park
Head coach John Mousinho has led Portsmouth to England's second tier for the first time in 12 years [Getty Images]

I once walked into a Portsmouth recruitment meeting after a season having arranged to chat to someone, but when I entered the room it was as if the music cut and everybody stopped talking.

Needless to say I was ushered out fairly quickly while someone made me a cup of tea. I didn’t pick up any great scoops sadly.

We have entered perhaps the strangest time of the footballing year.

The play-offs are still ongoing so the makeup of each division is yet to be finalised, however, Portsmouth’s title win feels a very long time ago.

The season ended a week earlier than previous years and the next one starts a week later so it is a longer summer than usual.

There are A LOT of job openings available but a much greater number of players hoping to fill them.

It is a bit like a game of musical chairs where the music is not going to stop anytime soon and right now there are loads of chairs available.

As the calendar turns to June and then the start of preseason the number of chairs will start diminishing.

Plan for next season

Pompey have got a bit of an advantage, since January they had been planning for this summer based on two scenarios, staying in League One or winning promotion to the Championship.

You can imagine the latter was getting far more attention than the former as the season drew towards its conclusion.

There have been a couple of early deals announced but it is unusual to see transfers completed in early May.

Previously, Portsmouth have had a policy that they will not announce any deals until the window formally opens.

Transfers cannot be ratified until then and while it is unlikely a player would sign a deal up to that point and go back on their word, it is technically possible.

Players often go away at this time of year, giving their bodies a well-earned break and spending time with loved ones, and agents are left to deal with clubs and field enquiries.

Portsmouth players celebrate winning the League One title
Marlon Pack (centre) and Connor Ogilvie (third right) both have contract offers from Portsmouth. [Getty Images]

I have spoken to both Sean Raggett and Joe Rafferty in the past week following their departures from Pompey.

Obviously, players are reluctant to reveal where interest has come from but you would imagine there will be a queue for the pair from promotion-chasing League One clubs.

Bottom-half Championship interest is not out the question either.

Marlon Pack and Connor Ogilvie both have offers from Portsmouth.

I have no insight into what their particular agents are currently up to but it is common for agents of players in that situation to make some tentative enquiries and at least see what other interest might be out there.

It is useful for negotiating points if nothing else.

It is hard for Joe Morrell and Zak Swanson, Pompey would like to keep them but are obviously not willing to pay wages at the level required in their contract option.

There will undoubtedly be suitors for both given their quality.

There is a danger it gets forgotten because Morrell has been out since January but he was outstanding in the first half of the season.

The game of musical chairs can get quite edgy though.

I once knew a player who was a free agent and 15 clubs expressed interest in signing him.

However, that only translated into two contract offers, shortlists are not that short at the moment.

It usually requires a few of those chairs to disappear from the game to focus minds and get deals done.

I know of at least one Portsmouth player who last summer was offered more money at another League One club but opted to come to Fratton Park.

It is not all about money (although it mostly is).

If head coach John Mousinho and sporting director Richard Hughes can sell their vision for the future and select players as well as they did last summer, a good season in the Championship will be ahead for Pompey fans.