THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Still lots of off-field issues to resolve

icon league2b30 August ~ One joy of Portsmouth being back in the fourth tier is the opportunity for fans to visit new grounds, host clubs for the first time or work out when we last played a team. Chesterfield lost 4-0 at Fratton Park in April 1983 but Spireites fans should be optimistic of avoiding a repeat tomorrow. The supporters' trust takeover of Pompey generated a wave of goodwill: we were the bookies pre-season favourites for automatic promotion, the club have sold in excess of 10,000 season tickets and we've even had replica kits on sale before Christmas.

The new board can be proud of what it has achieved in a short space of time but if it was struggling to manage expectations then our first four League Two games have provided a reality check. An 4-1 opening-day defeat to Oxford set the tone. We're capable of attractive, attacking football and we can score goals but at times it feels like we'd be better off fielding a defensive pairing of sieve and colander.
 
Pompey have lost the lead in three out of four league matches. We can come from behind but seem unable to finish teams off, and the visitors' boss Paul Cook might look to exploit our tendency to sit back and defend what we have. It's too early in the season to tell whether there is a lack of quality within our squad or players just need time to bed-in.

There are a minority of Pompey fans who believe we should be thrashing teams they see as "minnows" but the reality is we have a conservative playing budget, an inexperienced manager and myriad infrastructure issues still to address. A draw against Chesterfield, sitting second in the league with double the number of points we have, would be a great result.
 
Of course, scorelines and performances are of secondary importance to the majority of Pompey fans. It's a trite observation but every weekend we are reminded that just being able to fulfil fixtures is an achievement. This was always going to be a season of consolidation, with anything else a bonus.
 
Arguably, the priority now is to address off-field matters such as how much influence the supporters' trust should have in the day-to-day running of the club, what constitutes an acceptable level of transparency and the values of a "community club". It was recently reported that Pompey are involved in the government's controversial "workfare" scheme, raising some awkward questions, and there was a disappointing response from club officials. The board have successfully fought and overcome many fires but they need to be careful not to get caught in a governance backdraft. Leon Tricker

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