Cambridge News reporter Aaron Mason gives the inside track on the U’s ahead of Pompey’s trip to Abbey Stadium.
The best word to describe Cambridge United’s start to the season is ‘inconsistent’.
Obviously they would like to be doing better than they are at present but have suffered a lot of injury problems which have all occurred at the same time.
Richard Money’s plans have been deprived of at least four or five players at any one point and in some circumstances some didn’t have full pre-seasons.
At present the U’s are 15th but the table is tight in terms of points, so they are not a million miles out of contention for the play-offs.
That gives them a bit of hope once the injuries have cleared and they can start to get going, although they have picked up only one win in their last nine matches.
Last season was a 19th-placed finish and the aims are to improve on that during this campaign, certainly the play-offs are seen as a realistic prospect.
Looking at the players on paper, it’s a much stronger squad.
The likes of Barry Corr, Keith Keane and Luke Berry were among 10 players brought in during the summer – a lot of them coming from a higher level.
Berry’s arrival has been especially interesting as he had left the Abbey Stadium for Barnsley the previous summer having come through the youth ranks.
However, he was back 12 months later for an undisclosed fee and signing a four-year deal, a contract length which is unheard of at this level.
Money, though, sees him as one to build a team around for years to come – as he does Corr.
The striker arrived from Southend and has struggled with injury for much of the time but has still scored six goals in five games.
He returned last weekend against York – after the best part of a month absent through a thigh injury – and netted in the 2-2 draw.
Corr is a natural goalscorer who is in the right place at the right time, yet can also hold the ball up and bring other people into play.
He’s a wily performer who possesses aggression and the ability wind-up defenders.
Cambridge claim none of the money from their FA Cup run last season which saw them play Manchester United twice has gone towards the playing side.
Instead it has been used to fund matters off the pitch, trying to build an infrastructure and improve aspects of the stadium and the training ground.
There was a momentum when the U’s climbed out of non-league in the summer of 2014 and they are trying to maintain that by improving revenues outside of football.