Even though Danny and Nicky Cowley have taken charge of 12 Pompey games this calendar year already, August 7th will mark a fresh start and opportunity to show their on-pitch intentions from the commencement of the League One season.
In preparation for the season opener against Fleetwood Town, the Cowley’s player recruitment strategy has been criticised to be slow and overdue by impatient fans itching to see new, exciting names replace as many as 14 departing players, six of which were the club’s preferred starters. Those fans however, (myself included) should have a lot to be excited about. Although the transfer window is open until August 31st, with less than two weeks to go until the start of the season, we take a closer look at the eight squad additions, as of the time of writing.
|Shaun Williams||CDM||34||Millwall (free)|
|Clark Robertson||CB||27||Rotherham (free)|
|Kieron Freeman||RB||29||Swansea (free)|
|Ryan Tunnicliffe||CM||28||Luton (free)|
|Jayden Reid||CF||20||Birmingham (free)|
|Gassan Ahadme||ST||20||Norwich (loan)|
|Liam Vincent||LB||28||Bromley (undisclosed)|
|Gavin Bazunu||GK||19||Man City (loan)|
Defensive Midfielder, Millwall (free)
Williams looks to be the most experienced out of the bunch judging by both his age, and number of games played. With 365 games under his belt in League One and the Championship combined, the Irish midfielder will be looking to step into the shoes of the Wigan-bound Tom Naylor. Don’t let Williams’ defensive role mislead you however, as his track-record of 36 goals combined at Millwall and MK Dons proves that he is capable of sticking it away from outside of the box.
Centre-back, Rotherham (free)
Robertson’s experience in League One and the Championship with Rotherham is exactly what is needed to bring in stability in the back-line for Cowley’s starting 11. In what was a free transfer from the Championship’s Millers, Robertson looks to be a direct replacement for Jack Whatmough, and a new defensive partner of Sean Raggett. Despite being a centre-half, Robertson is partial to a goalscoring opportunity, netting 10 in his career, almost all of which were headers from set pieces – so perhaps that qualifies him as a late replacement for Christian Burgess, rather than Jack…
Right-back, Swansea (free)
A familiar face from years gone by, Freeman has worn a Pompey shirt seven times in the latter stages of the 2015/16 League Two season. After spells at Sheffield United, Swindon Town and Swansea City, the Welsh defender returned to Fratton Park to challenge for a first-team place against Callum Johnson, arguably one of last season’s most consistent performers. Having only three appearances added to his career total in all of last season, it’s safe to say the Welshman is not currently on-form however, a consistent trajectory from League One all the way to the Premier League with Sheffield United, is something that likely translates to relevant experience for the exact mission Pompey are setting on right now: instant promotion.
With his contract at Swansea City running out, Kieron arrives at Fratton Park as a Free-man…
Midfielder, Luton (free)
Tunnicliffe arrives on a free transfer from Luton Town, and a wide array of experience, including 256 games in the Championship. The midfielder was also part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s conclusive title-winning season in the Premier League in 2013. Tunnicliffe adds much needed squad depth in midfield, and brings bags of solid Championship experience.
Forward, Birmingham (free)
Reid is one of the lesser experienced players on the arrivals sheet this season however, one that shows the most potential. As a 20 year old, Reid will be looking to impress and kick-start his career. In need of a versatile forward after Ryan Williams’ departure, Reid has been given the opportunity to outshine first-team starters Ronan Curtis and Marcus Harness. With no goals or assists from 488 minutes last season, Reid is not a proven player however, it only takes one good performance in the early stages of the season for the supporters to get excited about the youngster.
Unfortunately, in Portsmouth’s pre-season friendly against Luton Town, Reid suffered a ruptured cruciate, ruling him out of action in the foreseeable future.
Striker, Norwich (loan)
Arguably the most exciting addition to the squad. The young Moroccan has impressed in pre-season, scoring eight goals in four games for the Blues, albeit this was unknown to the public, due to his ‘Trialist’ pseudonym in the first few matches.
Ahadme hasn’t registered any appearances for Norwich’s first team however, he has netted eight goals from 20 appearances for the under-23’s in the past 2 years. The striker’s loan move coincides with the Canaries’ promotion to the Premier League, where he almost certainly wouldn’t have gotten a look in however, from what was made of his performances in Pompey friendlies, he possesses the kind of front-running hunger the Blues missed in the last few seasons.
Left-back, Bromley (undisclosed fee)
Vincent was the first of the Cowley signings in this summer’s transfer window, and looks to be a young talent intended for development in the coming years. The young left-back is not likely to challenge Lee Brown for his spot however, Pompey fans can certainly expect to see him in League Cup and Papa John Trophy games. What’s most important however, is the permanent nature of this deal. Too many times have we seen young stars come through the Pompey doors and exit far better players after a loan spell. By penning a three-year deal, Pompey’s future on both sides of the defence looks set, with Haji Mnoga on the right, and the newly signed Vincent on the left.
Goalkeeper, Manchester City (loan)
Portsmouth Football Club completing transfer deals with Manchester City sounds like the kind of future all Pompey fans yearn for. After being scouted by the blue side of Manchester in 2019, Bazunu has appeared in 27 matches for Manchester City (mostly its U18 and U21 teams). The 19 year-old Irishman however, has 29 games worth of experience in League One from his loan spell at Rochdale, which is 13 more than Alex Bass can claim, at the age of 23. Debates have started to emerge whether Bazunu was brought in as a back-up to Alex Bass, or as solid competition for the #1 shirt between the sticks for the 2021/22 season.