Portsmouth’s play-off envy from last season will be sure to have left bitterness in the minds of its players and manager, Kenny Jackett.
A mixture of results against Shrewsbury Town and Tranmere in the league, and Birmingham in the Caraboa Cup, will have given indications of what this Pompey side is about this season.
Pompey were subjected to an opening day 1-0 defeat to Shrewbury, but bounced back against a weak Birmingham side with a 3-0 victory before securing an easy 2-0 win against Tranmere at Fratton Park.
With this in mind, here are some thoughts on what we have learnt from Portsmouth so far….
Make dominance pay
A theme across Portsmouth’s first three games is their possession. They dominate the game. 60% away to Shrewsbury, 54% in the Caraboa Cup against Birmingham, and 52% versus Tranmere shows they keep possession well. From it, they have created plenty of chances, with 49 attempts on goal so far.
They made this dominance pay in the next two games, but Portsmouth failing to convert at least one of their 15 shots at Shrewbury, shows they need to work harder so their domination counts.
One element Kenny Jackett will relish in his squad is his striker duel that seems to be forming. In the summer, Portsmouth acquired two strikers: Ellis Harrison from Ipswich and John Marquis from Doncaster.
Marquis scored 26 goals for Doncaster last season, while Harrison struggled in the Championship with one goal in 17 appearances. In addition, Jackett also has Oli Hawkins and Brett Pittman to play up-front.
With the competition, Harrison believes it will make the squad better. “There’s competition and it’s healthy” he said. “If you get complacent, you can stop working as hard. All four of us are trying to play for that one shirt.”
In the opening games, Portsmouth’s defensive unit has impressed. Two clean sheets from three games is a positive record, while Jackett would have been happy with his defence halting Shrewsbury to only three shots and one-on-target. Fatefully however, the one on target resulted in the defeat.
Despite this, the early signs of a team that can defend will improve their chances of reversing their 2019 playoff pain.