Now that the 2016/17 League Two season is well and truly underway, every fan in the country has high hopes for what may unfold in the next 10 months.
However, as a Portsmouth fan who is about to watch the club’s fourth successive season in English football’s lowest professional division, it is vital to right the wrongs from the previous three campaigns.
With 17,570 spectators in attendance on the opening day of the season at Fratton Park, more than some League One and Championship clubs could attract, it is clear that fans have high expectations for the coming year, with little patience for poor performances.
Therefore, what can we realistically expect from Paul Cook’s side ahead of the new season?
The South Coast outfit have recruited plenty of attacking players over the summer, with those such of Carl Baker already making his mark.
The former Milton Keynes Dons winger, who was playing in the Championship last season, scored Portsmouth’s only goal on the opening day in what resulted in a 1-1 draw with Carlisle United and was subsequently named Man of the Match.
Milan Lalkovic is another who has impressed during the start of the season. With neat footwork and darting runs into the box, the Czech has caused plenty of problems for defenders and it won’t be long before he, like Baker, opens his Portsmouth scoring account.
Portsmouth also have plenty of options still available from last season’s squad. The likes of Gary Roberts and Kyle Bennett have had time to adapt to League Two life, with striker Conor Chaplin still on the Blues’ books.
The 19-year-old finished the 2015/16 campaign as the club’s top goalscorer and will be hoping to forge a partnership up top with Michael Smith, who over the summer made the switch from Swindon permanent.
Consistency in goal
Finally, we have a regular number one between the sticks! David Forde’s loan from Millwall prior to the first game of the season was music to every fan’s ears.
After five different shot-stoppers started in the Blues’ line-up last season, one of which was signed on an emergency loan three hours before the first play-off leg with Plymouth Argyle, we really realised the importance of consistency at the back.
Paul Jones, Brian Murphy, Aaron McCarey, Ryan Fulton and Ryan Allsop all turned out in a Pompey shirt last season, with youth keeper Alex Bass also occupying the bench on certain occasions.
However, Forde’s arrival will not only add huge experience to the squad, with him now entering his 17th season in professional football, but he also looks to be a commanding and confident keeper.
We’ll do it the hard way!
As we all learnt from last year, a squad more than capable of promotion don’t like to make it easy for themselves.
Last minute goals were conceded left, right and centre and the Blues must find a way of preventing this if they are to meet expectations in the coming season.
With Christian Burgess still at the heart of defence, and 2016’s Player of the Season Enda Stevens to his left, there should be enough solidarity and experience to prevail against other sides.
Cook has also brought in Drew Talbot from former club Chesterfield and Adam Buxton, who experienced the play-offs with Accrington Stanley last season.
Familiarity of the division, particularly in with Talbot experiencing promotion in 2014 with the Spireites, should only help the Blues in their quest for League One football.