Marlon Pack interview: Portsmouth midfielder insists promotion target still stands despite Pompey’s drastic mid-season slide

When the chance arose for Marlon Pack to re-join Portsmouth again in July, he jumped at it.

The midfielder was born within the metropolis, on the membership’s books by the age of six, a South Stand season ticket holder thereafter and, after progressing via the academy, handed his Pompey debut by Steve Cotterill at 19 in August 2010.

He didn’t handle to interrupt into the first-team image at Fratton Park, although, as a substitute opting to affix Cheltenham in 2011 after a profitable mortgage spell in Gloucestershire.

So when he was launched by Cardiff after the expiry of his contract, a second likelihood proved engaging.

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Pack re-joined Portsmouth on a two-year deal in July, having initially left virtually 13 years in the past

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“It was always going to be hard for me to turn down, just because of the emotional pull of being my local team, being where I grew up, being a Portsmouth fan from when I was a kid,” he tells Sky Sports.

“They form of had one over me in that respect and I’ve all the time mentioned, for me, there was unfinished enterprise right here.

“Sometimes, the idea of coming back to your local team is better than the reality of it, but there was always that ambition and desire to pull on a Pompey shirt again because when I did come through, I feel I didn’t play enough games before leaving.”

Also See:

  • Pack wins Sky Bet League One Goal of the Month

  • LIVE League One desk

  • Portsmouth fixtures

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Take a take a look at Marlon Pack’s objective for Portsmouth towards Ipswich Town again in December 2022.

The fabled fairy-tale return began off as simply that. Pompey have been unbeaten of their first 9 League One video games and received six in a row between August 13 and September 13. It was no shock that Danny Cowley received August’s Sky Bet League One Manager of the Month.

In an unique interview with Sky Sports in September, he mentioned: “We’re certainly enjoying the process. For us, it’s important to not get too caught up with the outcome; we’re always trying to stay really process-driven and the better we do, the harder we work. We try to live with that mantra and see where it takes us.”

He was proper to not get too caught up as a result of, from there, all the things unravelled quite spectacularly.

Over the following three months, a run of 13 league video games produced a solitary win – towards struggling Forest Green on October 22 – and solely 10 factors. From difficult for automated promotion, by shut of play on New Year’s Day, they have been twelfth, 18 factors off the highest two.

What went so unsuitable so rapidly?

“I’m not going to lie and say we weren’t thinking we were onto something good,” Pack says.

“We’re a level-headed group so we weren’t getting carried away, but there was a real momentum and belief because of the performances we were putting in and the games we were winning. That has all come crashing down, so it has been a real tough period for us all.

“It has been a disappointing interval, to say the least, and I feel I’m most likely being simple on us by saying that as a result of it has been so much worse than that. There’s plenty of work to do.

“At the start of the season, when you’re on that roll, things do go well for you and then, on the flip side, when you’re desperate to win a game, those things that were going for you at the start of the season seem to desert you a little bit.

“We may very well be right here all day speaking about what’s gone unsuitable and I do not assume there was one particular factor, but it surely does occur. I’ve been in groups the place we have had dangerous runs and from going so effectively, issues can rapidly flip towards you.

“But we can control that and, maybe at times, we haven’t controlled that enough and there’s a real onus on us as players to take some accountability, to stand up, be counted, have the minerals to take the ball in tight areas, make those tackles, do the hard stuff and also play smart, be creative.

“We know it is a state of affairs we should not be in, however we’re and solely we will get ourselves out of it.”

Portsmouth's battle to go away League One

  • 2017/18 – Finished eighth, 5 factors exterior prime six
  • 2018/19 – Finished fourth, misplaced to Sunderland in play-off semi-final
  • 2019/20 – Finished fifth on PPG, misplaced to Oxford in play-off semi-final
  • 2020/21 – Finished eighth, two factors exterior prime six
  • 2021/22 – Finished tenth, 10 factors exterior prime six
  • 2022/23 – Currently fifteenth, 9 factors exterior prime six

The prolonged run of poor kind noticed Cowley and his assistant, his brother Nicky, relieved of their duties on January 2, at some point after a 3-1 residence defeat to Charlton, through which Pack was despatched off for the second time this season.

Pack admits it was a wrench to see the pair depart, despite the inevitability of the membership’s resolution.

“I’m an experienced player now, so it sits on your conscience more when you’re a little bit older, when you see the effort they had put in day-to-day. It doesn’t just affect them as individuals; they’ve got families and people to provide for.

“I do know it is the character of the beast, it is the burden of being a soccer supervisor and it comes with the territory, but it surely’s still not good as a result of they’re good household folks and I had a superb relationship with them.”

At lengthy final, although, there’s now cause to imagine the season might be able to be salvaged.

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The seek for Cowley’s successor concluded on Friday January 20, 18 days after his departure, when John Mousinho left his player-coach function at Oxford, thus ending his 18-year enjoying profession, to take up the top coach function at Fratton Park.

Just over 24 hours after taking cost, the 36-year-old – who began out at Brentford – oversaw a primary league win in 11 makes an attempt, with Pack scoring a thumping volley to interrupt the impasse.

It was the proper approach to begin the second half of the season, with Pack hinting Pompey will deal with what stays of the marketing campaign as a season in itself.

The 31-year-old says: “I feel you have to take a look at the fixture record once you get it and attempt to break it up into blocks and consider the place you’re after sure blocks.

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Watch Marlon Pack’s sensible volley for Portsmouth towards Exeter City in January 2023.

“We can’t do anything about those previous games now. The start of the season was great, but that’s gone now. Yes, the run we’ve been on since has disappointing, but that’s gone now. It’s the biggest cliché, we can only focus on the next game.

“We can all play the sufferer and it is simple to be unfavorable throughout this time, however I feel we’ve got to go the other method and attempt to be ultra-positive and actually stick collectively as a collective, attempt to get everybody onside and get again on a successful run.

“As I said, we can control certain things; how we go up to games, the work ethic we put in, the endeavour we show – and there’s a minimum requirement to do that at Portsmouth Football Club.”

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Highlights of the League One match between Portsmouth and Exeter City.

In spite of the very fact they’ve traversed a tough path up to now, Pack says the pre-season target stays in place.

“I’ve come here – and I know it seems a million miles away at the moment – to get promoted, to be successful and that is the expectation here.

“I do know from what I see on a day-to-day foundation that we have got a gifted group, we simply have to get again to successful methods. I feel a run will construct some confidence all through the group, which we desperately want on the minute.

“That end goal that we set ourselves hasn’t changed. The journey may have diverted a little bit and we’ve made it a lot harder for ourselves, but there’s so many games to play, so many points still up for grabs.

“One good week on this division can actually begin altering the outlook and perspective of the desk. But there aren’t any simple exams. It’s a very aggressive league and we will need to get again to our greatest.”

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