Can Portsmouth avoid the drop?

by Michael Somerville

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Paul Hart was nominated by various broadsheet football journalists as “Manager of the year” last season despite only taking charge of half of Pompy’s games, following a disastrous start by Tony Adams. Hart showed his experience and got the team organised again; keeping Portsmouth up for another season in the top flight with relative ease in 14th position.

The less said about this season, the better for Pompy fans, who have seen their side pick up zero points from the first five games, including losses to Bolton, Fulham and Birmingham; teams that most sides should really be able to pick up points from. After being unsaddled by top clubs poaching their (some would say) world class players in Peter Crouch, Glen Johnson,  Jermain Defoe, Niko Kranjcar, and even Sol Campbell who decided that League 2 would be a better prospect than another season on the south coast, the Blue Army look destined to go down.

However all is not lost. If Paul Hart can see some sense and start playing John Utaka (Utaka was an unused substitute in the 2-3 defeat to Bolton) and organise the defence like he did last season, then we can probably start to see some points at Fratton Park. The real problem however, is the lack of a real creative midfielder. Niko Kranjcar and Sulley Muntari were first-rate at that role. Now Hart has to try and get the best out of a pair of Spurs cast-offs in Boatang and O’Hara, who could be good players, but the jury is still out on them. I’m actually quite surprised that Kieran Richardson hasn’t been signed from Sunderland, after Richardson kept West Brom in the Premier League a few years ago. Richardson seems a good creative midfielder that Portsmouth could do with, but perhaps he has found his feet at Sunderland.

It’s pretty obvious that Portsmouth need to strengthen their squad in January, but it all hinges on whether the new chairman can afford to dip in and help the club out with his own pocket. Arab owner Sulaiman Al- Fahim has promised that the club will have money to spend in January but other people have stated that all the money from the Sky TV revenue has gone straight to paying off a bank loan.

“Hopefully, by the end of this month, there’s new money coming in from my personal finances”. Al-Fahim recently stated, not exactly remaining convincing on the subject. Chief Executive Peter Storrie quickly dispelled any optimism by stating;

“Sulaiman has not refinanced the club as things stand and it’s unsure when funds will be available.”He has assets but they are tied up in business and he has no liquid assets.

However the ever dependable David James seems convinced that Portsmouth have enough about them to stay up this season, “But I think we’ll be all right. I’ve seen enough to suggest the talent and the quality is there. We just have to put it together in the right order and get the results. The sooner we can do that the better, but I am very optimistic.

I am inclined to agree with James, as I believe O‘Hara can be Pompy’s creative force this season, but the current situation on the South coast does highlight the uncertainty of Premier League football. FA cup winners last year to relegation “certainties”; just how quickly does fortune change in football?

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  • Stevie

    doomed, no chance. where are the goals coming from?

  • Iain

    No chance. They are an absolute shambles. Unless they buy Messi in the January transfer window. Not enough players, not enough quality, not enough money, not enough fans. Without Harry Redknapp they are nothing.

    Now I feel all dirty for saying that. eurgh

  • dexylongshot

    Portsmouth are gonna be the new Chiefs (from Slapshot without Paul Newman). They are getting uglier and more brutal with every game, all they need is the Hanson Brothers and they should be fine. I think the capture of O’Hara in the transfer window is a good bit of business, he looked the business in pre season and in the handful of games at the end of last season. I still think they will be in trouble come next spring but may fluke it if he can get on the ball.

  • mike

    I dunno, it’s still early days and this Lyon guy could turn out alright. Plus they’ve got the Senegal player whose coming back from injury. Thing is; these players are an unknown quantity, and Harry Redknapp is making the most out of it. Loaning out all his players such as O’Hara, Kaboul, Boatang is really doing Spurs a favour and his reserve players are getting first team football all season long!

  • Matt Quinn

    I went to the Villa v Portsmouth game today… and i was actually very impressed with Pompey. Thought they played some good stuff and look to have enough quality to at least mount a challenge to stay afloat. Something i didnt think they had a few weeks ago before buying a whole new team.

  • Mike

    My sentiments exactly. They will pick up points quickly against the Stokes, Wolves, Wigan’s, Birminghams, Burnley’s, Hull’s- my God there is so much dross in the Premier League this year!

    This has gotta be one of the weakest leagues in living memory, with the most weakest teams percentage etc. Wolves will go down, with them playing their best (and only) good game of the season yesterday and Wigan, Hull, Birmingham look absolutely abject. Portsmouth have Premeir League experience in the ranks, and over the season it will start to show. If only they will stop playing Tommy Smith and play Utaka instead, then they will get an improvement

  • dexylongshot

    I agree with the dirge comment, not many household names in the (predicted) bottom half. The relegated of hammers of 2003 would have probably got into Europe against this league. Joe boy Carrick, Johnson, Defoe, and the rest of the England squad

  • Mike

    Pompy have just been handed a transfer ban until they repay their debts.

    Great result last night, but surely this is going to make their Premier League survival just that much harder?

  • Mickey Marbles


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