If I was the manager: Portsmouth FC Summer Transfer Window (part 1)

11 May 2023 28 minutes

Portsmouth Football Club, my team, my club.

It’s been 7 long years in League One for Portsmouth and to sum it up, it’s largely been dull. Sure there have been some good away days and even a trip to Wembley but it’s time for all that to change.

Over this 2 part series, I will be doing a deep dive into how I would handle this transfer window If I was the manager/director of Football (and I lived in a dream world).

Right, let’s get going…

Matt Macey – Goalkeeper [Sign]

Matt Macey was signed in the summer on a short-term loan deal from Luton Town. He came with quite low expectations after far from impressive spells at Plymouth & Hibernian. However, after amassing 19 appearances he has proven the doubters wrong and had some impressive performances. He has been a real presence in goal for the Blues in the second half of the season and has commanded his area well.

I would look to bring him in on a permanent if we can agree on an appropriate fee with Luton. He has one year remaining on his contract so could entice him away for a low fee. This would be aided if Luton were able to succeed in the Playoff adventure and get themselves to the Premier League.

It is critical for Pompey that they sign a keeper on a permanent after having loan keepers for the last 2 years.

Josh Oluwayemi – Goalkeeper [Keep]

Oluwayemi has been given very limited opportunities this season, when given his chance it’s been a little hit-and-miss. His shot-stopping has been great and with some fine-tuning along side some more match experience, he could be the first choice in a couple of seasons.

I would activate the club’s one-year extension option on his current deal and keep him at the club but play him in all cup competitions to give him some experience. He needs to improve his consistency in the air and work on his distribution.

Toby Steward – Goalkeeper [Loan]

Toby Steward is one of the few successes’ to come through the Academy in recent years and secured himself a professional contract at the beginning of the 21/22 season.

While he is certainly a talented goalie, it’s unlikely he will get much game time at the moment if he stays at the club. I would suggest offering him a new 2/3 year deal and try to organise a loan deal to the National League to gain some much-needed experience before we throw him into the line-up.

Zak Swanson – Defender [Keep]

Signed from Arsenal Academy he was a fairly unknown entity joining the Blues. All the credit needs to go to the Cowley’s and their team for scouting him and getting him through the door as he has shown some real quality.

There is no doubt in my mind there will be Championship interest in the summer, his solid performances have certainly caught some admirers. When playing Tottenham in the FA Cup he was one of, if not the stand-out player on the pitch in a very underwhelming game.

Certainly, one I would do everything in my power to keep.

Denver Hume – Defender [Sell]

Hume was signed for a rumored £200,000 as the Cowley’s looked to play a 5 at the back system. He was bought in to give more attacking presence on the left-hand side in comparison to Lee Brown who he looked to replace.

However, he was unable to make the position his own in the 21/22 season and has since only made 4 appearances in the league this season. While not the worse backup option he wouldn’t be my personal choice, if an offer was to come in for him I would be inclined to accept.

Clarke Robertson – Defender [Release]

Never have I seen a club captain injured for such long periods of a season. That and his inconsistent form would lean me toward letting him go this summer. Ideally, he wouldn’t be a starting centre back and I can’t see him wanting to be 3rd/4th choice in league one.

His wages would also be a concern for someone who shouldn’t be starting next season, I would release him this summer at the end of his contract.

Connor Ogilvie – Defender [Keep]

Mr consistent, rarely puts a foot wrong and is somehow the club’s second-top goal scorer in the league. He’s made a habit of arriving at the back post, it would be great to see more of it next year! I certainly would be looking to enable the club one year option and would even consider trying to get him on another 2 year deal!

His defending and recovery runs are great and he is a solid player to have in and around the squad. One of the easier decisions – keep.

Kieron Freeman – Defender [Release]

You would be forgiven for forgetting Freeman was still a Pompey player. He joined from Swansea after a long spell at Sheffield United & even a previous loan on the south coast.

Only 7 minutes in the league to his name this season speak volumes. I’m not sure what he has done so wrong to be isolated from the squad as much as he has, but it’s quite a simple one – release!

Joe Rafferty – Defender [Keep]

Having joined from Preston in the summer, he looked like a real class player in the first 7 games before suffering an injury in training and missing 21 games before making it back into the squad against Burton Albion.

Since his return, he has done his job well but hasn’t wowed me with any spectacular performances. He can put a good ball in the box which is something we have lacked, but I want to see more from him.

Sean Ragget – Defender [Keep]

He’s not the most conventional defender but you would put your money on his winning any aerial duel. He’s improved defending with his feet over his time at the club but unfortunately, with the desire to play out from the back, just isn’t quite what we need for the majority of games in a season.

Despite what many would say I would keep him at the club, he certainly could play his part and would be a good mentor for some of the younger players in the squad. He would just need to be surrounded by some better ball-playing players.

Liam Vincent – Defender [Sell]

Vincent signed for Pompey in the summer of 2021 for an undisclosed fee from non-league club Bromley. He has since had loan spells at Maidstone, Hampton & Richmond and Worthing. While he has had some good performances, for me, there is too much of a step up from National League football to League One.

Di’Shon Bernard – Defender [Sign]

Bernard signed on loan from Manchester United in January but has seen limited game time, he’s only really had a sniff in recent weeks as Moushino looks to experiment with the squad.

From his limited time, I have to say I am quite impressed, he does the basics very well which is what we need. Strong and powerful and not afraid to play out from the back he is certainly the style of player we need. His age and the fact he is out of contract at Manchester United in the summer also makes him the perfect target for Pompey.

Ryley Towler – Defender [Keep]

Having joined the Blues in January for a rumoured £50,000, I don’t think the recruitment team could have got much better value for money. He signed from Bristol City having spent the first half of the season on loan at AFC Wimbledon.

He went almost immediately into the starting 11 and has really impressed keeping 6 clean sheets in his first 10 starts! Having said that, it’s baffled me how in recent weeks he’s been dropped, granted he didn’t have the best of games in the first half vs a physical Port Vale side but he has been, in my opinion, outstanding. He could work a little on his passing game, both short and long, but at just 20 he has plenty of time to improve.

No doubt in my mind, I would keep him.

Marlon Pack – Midfielder [Keep]

Pack is Back, but slightly underwhelmingly. Granted a few ‘screamer’ freekicks, but on the whole not quite what we had hoped for.

He, like many others, started the first 8 games on fire and got the Fratton faithful believing that this was our year. But after a few injuries and 2 red card suspensions, it’s easier to reflect now that the end of the season is upon us.

At times he has dictated play well and although he hasn’t scored many, the ones he has contributed have been sublime. However, his great games have also been accompanied by other games where he has been slow to react to attacking players & his passing, on the whole, has been poor.

He thrives more in a middle 3 when playing in an anchor role just protecting the back 4. He has played well when utilised like this, but too many times he has been deployed in a midfield two or responsible for pressing which isn’t in his natural game.

I would keep him because there is certainly the quality in the player we need, but he MUST be utilised in a more effective way next season. I would activate the club’s option of a 1 year extension and see how he performs at the beginning of the season before committing him to a longer-term future.

Ryan Tunnicliffe – Midfielder [Release]

Tunni was linked with a move abroad during the Summer window last year and many fans would have supported offloading the midfielder. However, since Christmas, he has found himself starting almost every game and while not spectacular hasn’t done too much wrong.

His contract expires this year but the club does hold a one-year extension which may come in very handy. They can see what’s available before deciding whether to activate this extension to keep him on the South Coast. If we did let him go I doubt too many people would be too disgruntled.

Ronan Curtis – Midfielder [Keep]

Love him or hate him Ronan Curtis has been a great servant at the club for many years. He signed in 2018 for a fee rumored to be around £100,000 and although it took almost 6 months to get his first start the Irish winger didn’t look back.

He has amassed 226 appearances and 99 goal contributions before suffering an ACL injury in March this year. While he hasn’t had the best season he has served the club well and is one of only a few at the club who looks up for a game and is ready to give it his all.

I would look to try and get him on a pay-as-you-play contract with a higher level of incentives to encourage him to get back to match fitness quickly and start firing.

Joe Morrell – Midfielder [Keep]

Joe Morrell is a must-keep for me, he dictates play well and is like our very own little terrier. He works hard to get the ball back and can spray a pass out wide which we need more of this season.

One negative I do have is on occasion, he can lose his cool and make a silly tackle or go in late on someone as we have seen a few times over the last 2 seasons. It of course makes the game the incident occurred in more difficult but also the following few games. In fact, Morrell missed 13 games through suspension/injury this season and we only won 4 of them (30% compared to 40% win percentage when he is involved).

Louis Thompson – Midfielder [Release]

I love Thompson and genuinely believe that without injuries his career could have taken him much higher. However, he is failed to cement a position in the new John Mousinho side only starting 5 since the turn of the year.

Pushing aside my own bias I would have to lean towards letting him go this season. He would be a great signing for most/all League One teams but with the huge caveat of – you need to keep him fit.

Michael Jacobs – Midfielder [Release]

For me this is a tough one, he is one of, if not the most creative player at the club but I am not convinced he has shown enough to warrant a top-end contract. At 31, it’s likely his best days are past him, and with an injury record and inability to complete 90 minutes (only once this season – in game week 2) there are almost certainly better options out there.

He is one that many Pompey fans will be sad to see leave but with the wages he will likely require to stay I don’t think it makes sense to keep him on our books.

Jay Mingi – Midfielder [Release/Unsure]

Jay Mingi is one talented youngster, but maybe one we should let go?

Having come through the West Ham academy he was released in 2019 before being quickly snapped up by fellow London club, Charlton Atheltic. After 2 years he was released at the end of his contract and joined the Blues on a one-year deal with option. He rarely featured in the 2021/22 season and was set for release from the south-coast club.

Despite his energetic, workman-like performances on the pitch he has had his ‘fair share’ of controversy off it. I am not saying he is to blame as it seems to largely be coming from his agent.

Back in 2021 when he was on trial the youngster picked up an injury and Pompey then turned down the opportunity to sign him. However, his agent threatened legal action and within the week the contract offer was back on the table and hastily signed. Seemed weird but not much more came of it.

Then after some great performances in the 2022/23 campaign, his agent decided to stir the pot again claiming his player was fit to play despite a different message coming out of the club. He has had a contract on the table since December according to Cullen but there is no indication on if/when this will be signed.

I think there is bags of potential but at what point does the agent become uncontrollable? If they allow the player to sign then it set the president to other players agents they can behave in such a manner to favour their players.

Tom Lowery – Midfielder [Keep]

He’s the one for me. He’s certainly been embraced by the Pompey fans and is proven to be one of the only creative players in this season’s squad. However, like others has struggled with injuries and match fitness – I don’t think we have seen a fully fit Lowery this season.

With a full pre-season and hopefully some work behind the scenes I am hopeful next season will be even better for the 25-year-old midfielder.

Colby Bishop – Forward [Keep]

Give him the keys to the city. Pompey has struggled to sign prolific strikers in recent seasons (bar Brett Pitman). Colby has scored 20 league goals this campaign which is more impressive seeing as he has had to feed off scraps for the past 9 months.

His movement, hold-up play and poachers instincts are exactly what we have been calling out for over the last 4-5 seasons. I am worried about the interest that has been shown in our number 9 already, Ipswich has already declared an interest and I am sure other Championship clubs will follow suit.

Joe Pigott – Forward [Send back]

A bizarre one all around in my opinion. Not sure why Portsmouth signed him if they had intentions of signing Colby Bishop just 6 days later. They have similar attributes and play styles so doesn’t offer too much different from what is already available in the squad. It also seemed strange that Ipswich would loan a player out to a rival (or at least an expected rival).

I liked his work rate and his desire but unfortunately, he hasn’t shown me enough to warrant bringing him back.

Jayden Reid – Forward [Keep]

How unlucky is he! 2 ACL injuries just before the season kicks off. If you can remember back to 2 years ago he was highly rated by the Pompey fans in pre-season but as we all know ruptured his ACL.

I fear after 2 serious injuries he may never be the same player again, however, a 1 year pay-as-you-play style contract wouldn’t hurt. If not, I would look into the possibility of having him on trial for a few friendlies which might allow Moushino to see if Reid fits into his style and system.

Owen Dale – Forward [Send back]

Running, running and more running but unfortunately, he has lacked any real end product. Despite this he has helped drag the team up the pitch at times and has certainly been valuable in some games.

Portsmouth need more pace on the wings but with such a lack of goals & assists I just don’t think he’s the man Pompey should be investing in this summer. If he can add more contributions to his game he will end up much higher than Pompey due to his natural ability to hold onto the ball and dribbling technique.

Reeco Hackett – Forward [Sell]

There is a player in there for sure, but unfortunately, he is far too reliant on his left foot and hasn’t been able to cement his place in the team to put a string of games together. This season he has only started 3 games in a row before being dropped meaning he hasn’t been able to build any constancy.

I want him to succeed, I really do. If an offer was to come in I would think long and hard about it. However, I wouldn’t be against keeping him next season as he has the ability to put some great crosses into the box if played on the left, which is exactly what Bishop needs more of!

Dane Scarlett – Forward [Send back]

He was signed with such high expectations having already made a Europa League appearance and with high praise from the likes of Jose Mourinho – ‘He must have feet on the ground and head on his shoulders because he has a fantastic talent’. To be fair, after 8 games you could see the hype! He pressed well, looked quick, energetic and could keep on running for hours!

However, after this, it slowly fell apart. He seemed to lose his confidence, he started pressing less and looked less interested. This can’t solely sit on the player, the management began changing the formation and tactics which saw him play in a less familiar LW position.

Unfortunately, since John Mousinho has taken over he hasn’t been able to regain his confidence or form and has become disliked by parts of the fan base.

While there is certainly a player in there somewhere he has lacked the natural instincts of an out-and-out striker this season. He will probably get another loan next season and score 15-20 goals.

Paddy Lane – Forward [Keep]

Signed for a rumored £250,000 in January 2023 some saw this as a steal as he was linked with a move to Brighton in the summer for a rumored £2,000,000! Scott Brown, the Fleetwood Manager, didn’t seem to favor the Norther Irish winger and only handed him 8 starts in the first half of the campaign.

Since moving to Portsmouth he has shown glimpses of talent but hasn’t been given a run in the team to really leave his mark.

I would keep him and would like to see him start some more games and be given some time to find his identity in the Pompey team and build a partnership with Bishop.

So there it is! That’s my take on how Pompey should handle the transfer market if I was manager/director of football. Of course, I’m not and I would like to think those in that position are a lot more qualified than myself. Either way, I would love to hear your thoughts on this, let’s carry on the conversation over on @thehalftimepint.

The stats & transfer information was collated from a wide range of sources, I have taken the liberty of collating a list of the best free football stats & information websites.