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Mousinho The Man For The Blues

When John Mousinho arrived on the south coast on January 20th 2023, few would have predicted the immediate success he has brought to Portsmouth Football Club.

Unknown, unheralded and perhaps unwanted by many, the left field appointment as Head Coach has taken the Blues one win away from The Championship. Saturday’s game at fellow promotion hopefuls Bolton will be Mousinho’s 72nd game in charge and his side have averaged 1.96 points per game since his first took to the dugout against Exeter at PO4. 

Rewind to New Year’s Day of 2023 and following the 3-1 home loss versus Charlton, Danny Cowley was relieved of his duties. After a promising start to the campaign, the wheels had well and truly fallen off, with the no sign of fortunes being turned around. 

In the interim, the club had installed Simon Bassey as caretaker boss, with performances during this time doing little to lift the mood around Fratton Park, despite the promising FA Cup display at Spurs. The recruitment process would take three weeks, before reaching its unlikely conclusion. 

Mousinho arrived at a club on its haunches, downbeat, dreary and desperate to be back competing for promotion.

The announcement on the new boss was met with much derision from the Pompey faithful, many questioning the direction and ambition of the club management. 

This is John Mousinho’s first venture into management and few would have foreseen the remarkable turnaround he has been able to pull it off in just 14 months at the helm. 

On his arrival he was quoted on the club website as saying "I want our team to play on the front foot, with aggressive and attacking football that will win games and entertain the fans."

It is safe to say that The boss has created a side very much alike to that philosophy stated on his first day. We are able to dominate the ball and strangle teams to the point of capitulation, as seen with so many late goals especially in the first half of the season. 

Mousinho’s men are tactically well rounded also, and seem to have the capability to do it all, adapting their playing style accordingly to suit any challenge. High pressing and energetic, can play attractive football, able to soak up pressure when required, get valuable goals from set pieces, can play on the break to great effect and the list goes on. 

Probably the most impressive facet of John Mousinho’s first venture into management is the environment he has created. This is a Portsmouth side very much aligned, no bad eggs, driven, determined and with a great togetherness.

Mous’ has been able to command the respect of the dressing room and keep all players on side and highly motivated, even those that have found themselves out of the starting 11.

We have seen the resurgence of Christian Saydee to a prominent role in recent weeks, moving from out of favour to making telling contributions including that wonderful goal against Oxford. Gavin Whyte, struggling in his maiden season with The Blues has played his role in wins over top six rivals Bolton and Peterborough on the way to huge victories. The gaffer also has given credit this week to Tom Lowery, for his part over eight appearances this season, again underlining that this is very much a squad effort. 

A staggering injury list has done nothing to derail the promotion charge. Mousinho has remained positive despite the many setbacks. 

Others may have bemoaned their rotten luck, manager of opponents Bolton - Ian Evatt likened his teams injury status to ‘going into battle with water pistols’. Our gaffer has never allowed negativity to set in, offering no excuses and keeping full focus on achieving results. 

He is always a great listen in his post match interviews, honest, yet a smart operator, able to separate his emotions to ensure he keeps his comments in check. 

We have seen our manager grow in confidence and stature in his time with The Blues. If you look back on the club YouTube channel and watch the videos of his first day and ‘bench cam’ from his first game, you can now see he has far more belief in himself when you observe his demeanour. But with Mousinho, there seems to be no ego, he has turned down the fist pumping celebrations with the supporters all season, allowing his players to take all the plaudits. It will be a special moment when if he finally lets his emotions get the better of him.

The club deserve huge credit for taking a punt on a young untried manager. They have also put in place a great support network, namely Richard Hughes, who has reinvented Pompey’s transfer policy, allowing the manager to focus on performance. 

Pompey will get promoted this season, it is a case of when not if. Next season will see greater challenges ahead, facing sides with greater financial muscle to flex. But for now, we can enjoy the next fortnight, fully confident in this wonderful team and manager to bring it home. 

No doubt a contract extension is sitting in the top drawer of Andy Cullen’s desk, ready to be finalised once The Blues are over the line and promotion is secured. 

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