Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley has admitted he believes star winger Ronan Curtis deserved to attract more interest from the Championship than he did this summer, speaking in an interview with The News.
The 25-year-old first arrived at Fratton Park in 2018 after impressing for Derry City and has performed consistently at Fratton Park for the past three seasons, establishing himself as one of the most formidable wingers in the third tier.
After recording an incredible 24 goal contributions during his first campaign on the south coast, he has backed this up by producing a further 16 during 2019/20 and 17 during the 2020/21 campaign.
Quiz: Have Portsmouth won or lost more against each of these 25 English teams?
With this, he was expected to generate a considerable amount of interest from the Championship despite his contract not expiring until the summer of 2023.
A departure seemed even more likely when the Irishman publicly stated his wish to play in the second tier in July, but previously interested sides Blackburn Rovers and Cardiff City reportedly cooled their interest in the 25-year-old during the same month, with both seemingly operating under a limited budget.
The same applies to Preston North End, who didn’t end up making a concrete move for the League One winger.
Pompey boss Danny Cowley believes Ronan Curtis was unlucky not to receive more interest over the past few months from second-tier sides who were able to pay the £2m and speaking to The News on this topic, he said: “Part of it is the pandemic, but there’s a reason why we didn’t receive an offer. That’s the truth, we had some enquiries, but there was no offer.
“If you look at his numbers and his assists, let’s be honest, he deserved more interest than there was. Now there’s a reason why there’s not that interest. I don’t understand that, but there’s a reason.
“It’s for Ronan to now either say “It’s not fair, the pandemic stopped me getting the move that I deserve”.
“Or he can own it and take responsibility. He can say “It hasn’t quite happened for me, but I am going to go and find a level of consistency.
“He will be the first to say that his absolute first ambition would be to get the Championship with Pompey. If he can’t do that, then his next ambition is to get to the Championship.
“But his best route, as we’ve seen this window, is to help Pompey get there – and he is capable of doing that.”
After performing consistently for three years at Fratton Park, it’s no real surprise that Curtis wanted a move away this summer.
Portsmouth may have been fighting at the right end of the table last term, but the manner in which they threw away a play-off place on the final day of the season must hurt and their decline in the second half of the campaign did them no favours.
More pessimistic Pompey fans may have felt that was one of their last chances to get promotion for quite a few years with Ipswich Town strengthening heavily, recently relegated sides Wycombe Wanderers, Rotherham United and Sheffield Wednesday all set to be competing for a place in the top six, Wigan Athletic recruiting well this summer and other teams including Sunderland also in with a shout of winning a place back in the Championship.
However, Curtis should be encouraged by the fact Portsmouth have won ten points from their first five games and after bringing in several top-quality signings including Ryan Tunnicliffe, Gavin Bazunu, Miguel Azeez and Mahlon Romeo, they will be pushing to go one step further and reach the play-offs this season.
The play-offs are a lottery and the form book goes out the window so even if they scrape a sixth-place finish this season, anything could happen and after wanting to play in the Championship for so long, Curtis could guide Pompey there if he can return to his old form.
He has failed to score a single goal or record an assist in his five appearances so far this term, but there’s still plenty of time for him to make an impact and the block of games after the current international break will give him that second chance.