In The Stand Sport Contributors, Matt Corrick and Hugh Bunce chat to Portsmouth FC defender Christian Burgess about the New Era at the club
A New Era at Portsmouth FC is finally here. The Foundations at Fortress Fratton were laid last season by the team and the devoted community ownership of the club. The new season starts today, Pompey finds themselves promoted to League One with a new manager, new owner and a sense of unparalleled excitement from the fans.
It hasn’t been a typical route into football for Burgess, who graduated from the Teeside University with a first-class honours degree in History. Starting his degree at the University of Birmingham, Burgess moved to Middlesbrough for his final year, to pursue the opportunity of professional football. A year’s loan to Hartlepool United in 2013 was followed by a subsequent move to Peterborough United for the 2014 -15 season. Since his move from Peterborough in June 2015, Burgess has been a consistent presence in the Pompey side.
Burgess, who last season was awarded the 2016/17 Player of the Season by guests at the Gala Ceremony, knows what Pompey need to do in order to succeed. After navigating their way through murky waters, things are looking much brighter for HMS Pompey.
Paul Cook has been replaced by Kenny Jackett in the dugout. Jackett has a proven record of success in League One, winning the playoffs in 2010 with Millwall and the title with Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2014.
The announcement on Thursday of Michael Eisner’s takeover of the club from the Supporters Trust has installed further excitement around the club. The city of Portsmouth is truly buzzing. Immense optimism about not just the team but the direction of the club has led to season ticket sales soaring past 14,500.
In the midst of all this excitement, Pompey defender, Christian Burgess has kindly taken the time to talk to In The Stand Sport’s Matt Corrick and Hugh Bunce, about the season ahead.
Matt Corrick: How has Kenny Jackett been since arriving at the Club and what has he changed from the Cookie (Paul Cook) regime?
Christian Burgess: He’s been really positive, installed his beliefs on the game and what he expects from us. He hasn’t changed too much, but is very organised and has put his own slant on training and the way he wants us playing. He’s made a few good signings and hopefully, we can carry on the momentum from last season.
Matt Corrick: What do you make of Brett Pitman’s arrival and the instant gel between him and Conor Chaplin?
Christian Burgess: Brett’s a great signing, brings a lot of experience and seems to be linking up well with Conor which is great. Chappers will learn a lot from him and hopefully, they can both fire us in the right direction. Brett has a proven record and knows how to score goals in this league.
Matt Corrick: Although it’s not been completed, what are your thoughts on the takeover and how do you think it will progress the club going forward? (Asked before Thursday’s announcement)
Christian Burgess: I think the club needs the investment that the new/proposed own Mr. Eisner will bring. His huge expertise and knowledge on running companies and also sports teams over in America should give him a great background to take Portsmouth back up the ladder. He talks very well and has outlined some great plans for the academy as well as a sensible route for success.
Matt Corrick: What do you think it’s going to take to get Pompey out of League One? Do you think Pompey can have an instant impact, or will it take a couple of seasons in this League to get promoted?
Christian Burgess: That’s a hard one. Firstly, it will take a solid base and more of what we saw last season defensively. It will also take a little more creativity going forward to break teams down, in what is a strong league. Whether we can go straight up depends on how we start the season, but we haven’t set specific goals, as such. I think we all want to give a good account of ourselves and see progress, but we certainly believe we can compete in League One.
Hugh Bunce: Are there any youngsters in the academy that you think has the ability to burst into the 1st team like Connor and Jack (Jack Whatmough)?
Christian Burgess: Ben Close or Adam May could be very close to having more of a stamp on the first team. But we’re a very strong squad so it’s up to young lads to prove themselves to the manager.
Hugh Bunce: Jackett and Eisner have both emphasised the importance of developing young players for the 1st team. Does this philosophy enable promising youngsters like Ben Close, Adam May, Jack Whatmough and Branden Haunstrup to be more involved with the seniors?
Christian Burgess: I don’t think their philosophy will mean there will be an immediate change and you’ll see young lads playing all the time. However, I think there’s a belief here that if you’re good enough, you’re old enough, so lads will play on merit. Hopefully, Portsmouth can continue to produce top talent and they can have an impact on the first team.
Hugh Bunce: Pompey won community club of the year in 2017. Does the club unity with the city contribute to a positive, close 1st team squad?
Christian Burgess: Definitely, I think all the lads feel what it means to this city, understand the large part the football club plays in the city and the huge positive impact it can have on the community. We all enjoy living down here and have enjoyed being a part of the journey and hopefully continue to be successful alongside the city.
Portsmouth gets their season underway with the visit of Rochdale.
Interview with Christain Burgess @Burgey44 by contributors Matt Corrick @mcorrick87 and Hugh Bunce @puckdropuk.
Featured image by PompeyNewsNow – For all your Pompey news – @PompeyNewsNow