Hugh of Pompey News Now gave his opposition view ahead of Portsmouth versus Plymouth Argyle.
Hi and thanks for talking to us? How long have you been supporting Pompey and what got you into it?
My whole family is from Gosport and my dad took me along when I was a kid. I cannot remember exactly how old I was, maybe 6. However, I’m 31 now so it’s been a while.
Argyle and Pompey have seen some cracking ties over the years…what are your highlights and lowlights of the games between the two sides?
The lowlight the stands out to me has to be the loss in the 2016 playoffs. I remember feeling devastated when Peter Hartley scored that stoppage time goal. Pompey struggled to test McCormick at all in that game and you deserved the victory. I was not surprised you won as Pompey’s record against Plymouth is average. Last seasons 1-0 win at Fratton Park was okay but the 2-1 win at Home Park stands out more with Matty Tubbs and Gary Roberts getting the goals for Pompey.
A lot of debate surrounds whether the game is correctly termed as a rivalry or not…what’s your stance on that?
The national media has completely overhyped the fixture between our two clubs as a rivalry. Most Pompey fans only really see the rivalry with Southampton as legitimate. The term “Dockyard Derby” being thrown around has caused even more of a backlash from Pompey fans. So much so that tonight the official Portsmouth FC Twitter account tweeted it was muting the phrase dockyard derby from their timeline! I personally think there is a bit of a jovial rivalry between the two teams more recently due to being of a similar standard and playing more frequently. But that is about it.
What are your thoughts on manager Kenny Jackett in the time he’s been at the club so far?
I am very happy with Kenny Jackett and what he has achieved at the club so far. Finishing 8th last season was an excellent platform for him to push on this season. Especially since we played the whole second half of the season without Danny Rose and struggled to get a foot on the ball in midfield. All eyes have been on Jackett to stamp his mark on the team this summer through recruitment and he has done just that. Pompey looks stronger across the pitch this season, although some fans have criticised a too direct approach. Danny Rose has not been able to to make it into the team this season, which shows how much stronger this team is.
How do you feel about the way you’ve started the season?
Very impressed with how we have started the season. 13 points from a possible 15 is better than I had hoped for and we remain unbeaten in the league. What is particularly encouraging is that our elite defensive partnership of Matt Clarke and Jack Whatmough have been able to keep opposing teams at bay when we come under pressure. Craig MacGillivray in goal who (signed from Shrewsbury) has been a man mountain and won us the game at Bristol Rovers.
Who are the main players for Argyle fans to worry about from your squad? And who do you want to move on?
The duo of Jamal Lowe and Ronan Curtis have been incredibly dangerous so far this season. Curtis, signed from Derry looks like the complete package. So far this season, Curtis has scored 3 and assisted on 2 goals. He has an incredible work rate, is highly skilled, good finisher and plays with an edge. He’s already becoming a fan favourite. Jamal Lowe has also scored three goals this season and I expect a lot more this season from Pompey’s number 10. Lowe has blistering pace and will look to take on your defenders whenever he gets the chance. Lowe is clutch in big games and is the sort of player that scores key goals when the team needs a goal. He was very unlucky not to get the winner at Home Park last season!
How have you set up tactically this season and do you expect that to continue on Saturday?
Jackett has changed the formation from 4-4-2, to 4-5-1, to 4-3-3, which the team seems to have settled on. However, the new signing of Andre Green on loan from Aston Villa has thrown this back into doubt. It could make sense to revert to last seasons 4-2-3-1 to accommodate Curtis-Green-Lowe in the starting lineup. That would allow new signing Ben Thompson on loan from Millwall and Tom Naylor to sit in front of the back four. Striker Joe Mason who has just been signed tonight from Wolves is not eligible to play due to transfer rules that the deal was not complete before 12. I expect Oli Hawkins to get the nod over Brett Pitman up front.
What’s your aim for the season and how do you expect Argyle to do?
Promotion has to be the goal with the squad Pompey have assembled. Whether that is through the automatic route or the playoffs is irrelevant. If we do not make the playoffs this season, there will be a lot of pressure on Jackett from the fans. Plymouth had a woeful start to the season last year and look to be repeating it again! I still think you are missing a striker and expected you to go out and recruit someone clinical. With the squad, you have mid tables my prediction. Stuart O’Keefe is an okay player but did not make a significant impact at Pompey and I doubt he will help fire Plymouth up the table.
Who do you most fear and/or envy from the Argyle squad?
Graham Carey is a very good player who I highly rate. If you are not keen, we will happily take him off your hands!
Finally, what’s your score prediction for the game?
I am going with 3-0 Pompey with Jamal Lowe to score first.