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A Renewed Optimism

Fratton Park

Last time we were at Fratton Park in the middle of January on a freezing cold Saturday, the mood felt pretty low following the drubbing at the hands of Leyton Orient.

A humbling at home, players out of form, the Robertson news still reverberating around the ground & a slow start to January dealings (minus the Macey deal) and we all started to get that familiar post-Christmas feeling. 

Fast forward three weeks and you could sense the renewed optimism in and around the ground. Seven points and four more signings later and the entire fan base has been reinvigorated to get behind the promotion push.

There can be no doubt what the club objective is this season, everyone is aligned to get out of League One. The owners have matched the ambition of the supporters and they have shown they understand the magnitude of the position and opportunity that Moushinio and his squad have landed us in.

You feel the board have learnt from mistakes of past transfer windows, but back then, they didn’t have Rich Hughes. 

Hughes is proving to be a shrewd, top operator in his role. It’s clear to see that the signings made are having an immediate impact on the squad & Fratton faithful. 

H&M (Hughes & Mousinho), always maintained that the final 7 to 10 days of the window would be Pompey’s time to pounce and they were good for their word.

Pompey needed additions with quality, without question, but also those with the right personality. Players need to be able to handle the expectancy and passion that is required to play at Fratton.

On Peart-Harris debut at Port Vale, you could see the confidence and aura that he has about him, not being phased making his debut for a team at the top end of the division. MPH has the bravery to attempt things in the final third, he is not afraid to lose the ball attempting to have an influence on the game. He also endeared himself to the Fratton faithful with some post-game actions to the opposition. 

Callum Lang’s instant impact at Oxford, showed the self-belief to step off the bench in a top six clash away from home, energising the blues performance and delivering a debut goal. He then of course follows it up with a goal at the Fratton End that his performance fully merited. 

Lang is destined to be a Fratton favourite, there will be days his performances may drop but what you can guarantee is an all action, tireless effort every time he steps foot on the pitch.

The movement and fluidity between Lang, Lane and MPH at times was exciting to see and bodes well.

I think everyone was slightly surprised with the inclusion of McIntyre from the start, based on the sounds coming out of the training ground that he may not be ready yet. But it was obvious why Moushnino threw him straight in. 

A cultured centre half, classy throughout, he gives the back line balance with him being left footed, it made Pompey look so much more comfortable when playing out from the back and building possession. 

Again though, it comes back to signing players with the right personality, McIntyre has played championship football & captained Reading, so wasn’t daunted by the prospect of full home debut days after leaving his boyhood club. 

It ended badly for McIntyre of course, the ludicrous decision to send him off was infuriating and baffling in equal measure. I’m not sure what he is expected to do with his foot when following through with the challenge. Depending on the injury, the club may decide it’s a battle worth walking away from, should the lay off be for a few weeks.

Fingers crossed that the protective boot and crutches he left the ground on were purely precautionary. Pompey are due a change of luck on the injury front, so hopefully that luck changes now. Watching the replay following the tackle, he does immediately bounce up to his feet initially, so I’m clinging to the positives!

We are yet to see the impact that Moxon can have, as he was introduced to the game at a point when Pompey had settled for their lot. But I have no reason to doubt the recruitment process of Hughes, so I am confident that the lad will deliver when needed. 

Mousinho has shown great bravery, flexibility & ruthlessness in recent weeks and that has to be praised.

The change of system versus Fleetwood, the flexibility of shape when replacing Rafferty for the makeshift right back Devlin, another tactical tweak mid-game at Oxford with Lang’s introduction energising the performance, the unexpected switch of Lang and MPH’s roles Saturday making Pompey electric out of possession, which gave us the platform for the fast start.  As well as showing no hesitation or favourable selections in dropping Raggett & Kamara to the bench for the new boys. 

Before Saturday’s game there was a renewed optimism, following Saturday's result and performance, you feel it’s now a real belief that this could be the season it finally happens.

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