Last season, despite winning the league, Pompey were both figuratively and literally missing a number nine. The occupier of the shirt, Michael Smith, was ushered out on loan to Northampton in January after failing to impress in the first half of the season. On the pitch, Conor Chaplin was the only recognised striker to really nail down a place in the team, but, he could only chip in with eight goals.
Instead, goals flowed in from the attacking midfielders. Gary Roberts got 10 and Kal Naismith was top scorer with 15. Pompey finished as second highest scorers with 79 goals last campaign so scoring goals is not exactly a problem, but theoretically, this League One campaign will be tougher than last season's. To have a striker scoring every week is vital for any team looking for success.
So Kenny Jackett signed Brett Pitman. It was a massive coup for the south coast side; Pitman was initially not keen on dropping down a division. The 29-year-old, who was labelled Ipswich's best finisher by former manager Mick McCarthy, arrived for an undisclosed fee and was named as club captain.[getty src="842242994" width="594" height="424"]
He made his debut for the club on the opening game of the season against Rochdale. He scored twice. They were very good goals. Picking the ball up down the left-wing, Pitman showed great strength to beat one Dale defender and leave him on the floor, great skill to beat another and great composure to finish the job. He's also pretty good in the air. His second was a looping header from the penalty spot.
Since then, Pitman has added two penalties, a diving header (from which he sustained a gruesome broken nose by being kicked in the face) and a beauty of a strike from the corner of the penalty area. Versatility is Pitman's biggest strength. He's got the aerial ability of a target man, the crossing of a winger, the technical prowess of a playmaker and the finishing of a natural number 9. He even scored a freekick in preseason.
And his boss uses this to his advantage, appearing only on the teamsheet as a number 10, the man from Jersey is given free license to exploit any area he sees fit. He'll pop up out wide, in the box and sometimes he'll just lurk around the edge of the box and score a beauty. In the 8 games played so far this season, Pitman has scored 6 goals: Finding himself joint-top of the scoring charts.
Pompey have found their number 9, it's just he's their number 8. And he plays as a number 10.