This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Comment’ series, this content strand is where the author of the article issues their personal opinion on the topic at hand….
This season has not started well for Portsmouth, but there is plenty for their fans to be optimistic about.
A relatively poor run of form, coupled with losing two fixtures, has seen them drop into the lower reaches of the division. That’s a position likely to be worsened this weekend as once again, they’re without a fixture.
It will leave them with three games in hand over some teams, with September not even halfway through. That’s going to take some catching up and whilst the points are there for the taking, matches must be won and a fixture pileup is looking likely.
That’s coupled with a fairly tough summer in which two of their best players opted to leave the club. Matt Clarke was the rock in defence for them and as yet, they’ve not settled into a routine without him. They’ve shipped a few goals and Kenny Jackett will hope to correct that.
However, they’ve also lost Jamal Lowe and his input is hard to replace. He scored goals, assisted them and was always a threat coming in from the flank. Whilst strikers Brett Pitman, Omar Bogle, James Vaughan and Oli Hawkins shunned the responsibility for scoring, Lowe did not.
In his place, Pompey have signed Marcus Harness. Alongside John Marquis he might not be the marquee signing of the summer, but his recent form suggests he could be the most important, even if fans are still applauding the capture of the Doncaster striker.
A centre forward is important, but the way Pompey play saw the three behind the main striker chip in often. Ronan Curtis has a good season and, had he been fully fit, they might have edged past a poor Sunderland in the play-offs. A half-decent striker will take chances, but the creators of those chances are the most important cog in the wheel.
Harness, formerly of Burton Albion, has looked to be the perfect replacement. He’s got pace and agility, something Lowe offered in abundance, but he’s also got off to a good start. Even in a team struggling to gel in the early exchanges, he’s seemingly settled into his role quickly.
He’s already bagged three goals in all competitions, as well as chipping in with an assist. When you consider the indifferent start some of his teammates have had, that’s a great return.
If he keeps focused and delivers at the same rate throughout the season, he’s going to make it seem as though Jamal Lowe was never that important. He’ll keep the 4-2-3-1 formation flowing nicely and, if he’s feeding John Marquis the right ammunition, they’ll see a goal return from him too.
Replicating Lowe’s return and adding more from the central striker will be enough to send Portsmouth up the table quickly through autumn, making Marcus Harness the most important player in the squad right now.