Barker's Blues Revival
Richie Barker has been in charge of Portsmouth for around a month now, having managed six games he has racked up five pointes, most notably the Boxing Day win against Dagenham & Redbridge. With the January transfer window now open, Barker has been swift in bringing in new recruits, most notable Nicky Shorey from fire-sale Bristol City on a free transfer. Shorey, one of the most consistent players for Steve Coppell's Reading side that established themselves as a Premier League outfit, played his first game in a Portsmouth shirt on Saturday against Oxford United, in an unfamiliar midfield role. Although, in my opinion, he played well in midfield, left back is his favoured position. Already showing his versatility, he seems like an already valuable asset for the blues.
Barker also signed Ryan Taylor from Bristol City, as well as Jake Jervis - having finally been given international clearance to leave his former club in Turkey. Jervis returns to Portsmouth after his previous loan spell from Birmingham City was cut short, and after being subsequently sold to his former Turkish parent club. Termination of his contract allows him to have a second go at his Pompey career, after his somewhat short loan spell showed very promising signs.
Ryan Taylor, like Jervis, is a striker. Although his scoring record isn't superb, he has been plagued by injuries in the past few years, as well as being used as a fringe player, coming on regularly as a substitute. His addition to the squad brings the blue's striking numbers to 7, with Barker opting to play with 1 up front. This brings into question David Connolly's role within the squad, as he is still coaching, and earning his coaching badges with the club, as well as being an availability for the first team. The 36 year old, has only scored a handful of times for Pompey this season, and since his dismissal at the beginning of the season, hasn't seemed the same. The powerful partnership he had with Patrick Agyemang last season has rarely been utilized this term, with both of the forwards being injured and/or suspended.
Connolly's lack of first team game-time and the arrival of two new strikers open up the possibility of early retirement, allocating more time for coaching. This is just one possibility Barker has to consider, after he stated in an interview before the Southend United game that Connolly hadn't trained with the first team in 3 weeks, due to fitness. There is also the opportunity to loan out Ashley Harris for the third time this season, or even Ryan Bird who hasn't lived up to his expectation after returning from his initial loan.
There are many players that Barker has under his radar, both inside and outside of Portsmouth. Rumours suggest that another former Reading player is on his way to Pompey - James Harper, who was also instrumental in Steve Coppell's reign at Reading. Coppell seems to be doing his fair bit of negotiating, demonstrating why his appointment as Director of Football was a good one. Inside the club, Barker has a lot to focus upon. With the release of Shaun Cooper last week, I'm sure Barker will be running the rule over the underachieving players, as well as looking to strengthen the squad's backbone.
On Saturday, Barkers men look to welcome Mansfield Town to Fratton Park, hoping to build upon their goalless draw against league leaders Oxford United. This game may be the chance for Jervis to show off what he can do in League Two, against a fairly average opponent. Nevertheless, it's onward and upwards from here.
Onward and upwards, in Pompey We Trust!
Written by Harry Davis - Harry tweets at @MrDavishPFC.
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