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Kenny Jackett wants Portsmouth to get back to "upper echelons of the pyramid"

Kenny Jackett wants Portsmouth to get back to
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Portsmouth were FA Cup winners in 2008.

Kenny Jackett hopes a “mouthwatering” FA Cup clash with Arsenal will be the start of many more nights in the national spotlight for resurgent Portsmouth.

Pompey lifted the cup in 2008 and were beaten finalists two years later before dropping out of the Premier League and plummeting through the footballing pyramid amid major financial problems.

The south-coast side entered administration in 2010 and again in 2012 before spending four seasons in the League Two wilderness during the lowest point of their dramatic demise.

Television cameras will be at a sold-out Fratton Park for Monday’s fifth-round tie against the Gunners and manager Jackett, who has Pompey pushing for promotion back to the Championship, is eager to continue the upward trajectory and return the club to former glories.

“If you’re looking at the ups and downs of Portsmouth, they’ve had a lot of highs, FA Cup winners, but then spent four years in League Two and before that administration where they did really well to be able to climb out,” said Jackett.

“We want to try and get back, and get back into the upper echelons of the pyramid, definitely, if we can.

“We want to try and do it in a sustainable way as well, that’s important.

“But Monday night, there will be a national focus on us and that will be great, and hopefully we can have many more.

“You’re playing against one of the genuinely great clubs in this country. It’s a great game for us. They don’t come along often so you have to be enthusiastic about it.

“It’s a fantastic tie, a mouthwatering one and definitely one we’re looking forward to.”

In-form Portsmouth have won 10 successive home games and 21 of their last 27 fixtures in all competitions to force themselves into League One title contention.

Pompey will also return to Wembley in early April bidding to retain the Trophy.

Portsmouth v AFC Bournemouth – Pre-Season Friendly – Fratton Park
Kenny Jackett is looking forward to Monday’s tie at Fratton Park (Daniel Hambury/PA)

They are the only club from outside the top two divisions remaining in the FA Cup but last defeated Arsenal more than 62 years ago, a 5-4 success at Fratton Park in March 1958.

Jackett guided Millwall to the semi-finals of the competition in the 2012/13 campaign and, during his playing days, was a beaten finalist in 1984 when Watford lost 2-0 to Everton at Wembley.

The 58-year-old believes it will be a rare experience for his squad to play the underdog role but believes they can handle the occasion, while insisting promotion is of far greater importance.

“I don’t think they will be overawed. I think they will be excited, definitely, and be looking forward to it,” said Jackett.

“Players are no different to me, if you’re looking at the season, what do they want to do? They want to get into the Championship, that’s everything.

“Is there a real sort of pressure on us on Monday night? It’s a different type of pressure, that’s it.

“We’ll be the underdog and so many times in our league it’s not the case.

“It will be a different type of pressure but similarly there will be a pressure to do well, pressure to make a good show of ourselves and individually to be able to do well.”

Jackett watched on television on Thursday evening as 13-time FA Cup winners Arsenal crashed out of the Europa League with a shock home defeat to Greek club Olympiacos.

Portsmouth captain Tom Naylor suggested Mikel Arteta’s high-profile squad could be unsettled by the intimate and raucous atmosphere of a capacity crowd at Fratton Park.

Sunderland v Portsmouth – Sky Bet League One Play-off – Semi Final – First Leg – Stadium of Light
Portsmouth’s Tom Naylor says Arsenal could be unsettled by the atmosphere of a capacity crowd at Fratton Park (Simon Cooper/PA)

Jackett disagreed with that assessment but has urged his team to capitalise on every possible advantage.

“They’ve got some fantastic players and they’ll have played in big games and big competitions as well, so I don’t think that’s necessarily going to be a worry for them,” he said.

“I wouldn’t necessarily use the word intimidating but an old-fashioned ground, tight, a passionate crowd, we have to use those assets, definitely.

“In the end, it is 11 v 11 out there and that’s what counts but to use those things, we’d be stupid not to. It’s a major asset of the club, definitely.”

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