We support the club with our hearts and the owners run it with their business brains. The two rarely coexist, but hopefully, on joyous occasions, their paths cross.
There were two plans put in place which was admitted by the club prior to the end of the last season.
So why two plans?
Simply put – the step from League One to Premier League is too large to make in one go.
To put this into terms our head can get around and bypass the heart is simply this, if you are a Championship or Premier League player with any sort of reasonable prospects would you drop down to League One?
As much as we hate to admit it, our heads would have to say a resounding no. As much as you may want to live with operational debt, or speculate to accumulate, unlike in the film ‘Field of Dreams’ sadly they will not come!
Our owner and a few other League One owners may have the money to buy their way out of this league but rarely do they take that approach.
They know the quality players we crave will not drop down to this league no matter how much we offer. The only proven quality players from above us we can hope to attract are ones who are on the fast track to retirement or have serious enough injury or personal issues that the larger clubs are no longer willing to live with and so are cutting them adrift. (Seeking a fresh challenge I think they call it).
Given that throwing money at new signings is pointless, where does that leave us as a team hoping to get promotion?
The options are:
- Developing your own players
- Unearthing gems from the teams below us
- Shuffling the deck regarding current League One players until we get a hand that works
- Loan market
- Signing crocked quality players hoping they will come good
We can see from those options that Portsmouth favour option 3 – trying to sign the best League One players such as John Marquis. Wigan are currently looking at this option taking Max Power and Charlie Wyke, among others.
Blackpool were successful with option 4, the loan market, with three or four of their promotion team being loan players including our very own Embo.
Options one and two are a more long term approach and need a good scouting and development structure in place. This seems to be the direction we are going in, along with some short-term option 5 as a gamble and the loan market to fill the gaps.
So even though our hearts may hate this plan, from a business sense it is a smart and necessary move, although options 1 and 2 make take some time to deliver. If the gamble does not pay off we may see more seasons in League One
I predict there will be no money splashed on players until we get promoted, our hope in the short term is an emerging loan talent and some crock players coming good. In the long term finally letting our academy deliver the goods!
Not to finish with some doom and gloom, but we did have a high performing academy not that long ago so are not starting from scratch, so we may have enough left to make the step into the Championship less difficult if given the chance. I am, of course, talking about the likes of Embo, Neill and Diamond (why does ‘Sweet Caroline’ keep popping into my head) and you can never discount the evergreen McGeady.
It may not be the summer transfer market we all hoped for, but it will make for an interesting season to come. In fact, the January window may be the more significant one as by which time any gamble on the youth as well as Pritchard and Evans should be a strong indicator of our direction and the next step!