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Are Pompey Already Doomed?

September 11, 2009

Football - Portsmouth v Everton Barclays Premier League

Four games into the season perhaps this a debate is a little premature, but I can’t get it out of my head that this club is in real trouble. Every time I try to decide on the teams that will be relegated this season, Portsmouth always seem to be on the tip of my tongue.

Is it wrong of me to think like this so early in the season? Or is it more of a grim premonition for the Pompey fans and owner to mull over?

Relegation Battlers

The Premier League is getting more competitive with each passing year, but with the ‘big 4’ teams seemingly etched at the top of the table, everything beyond has become something of a battleground; a bloody and brutal fight for established and rookie Premier League sides alike.

Similar to last year, the newly promoted sides are all showing that they won’t simply rollover and die against the established Premier League sides. Burnley particularly stand out, adopting a stance similar style to Stoke last year, converting their home ground into a fortress and daring anyone to try and steal three points away from them. In fact, Burnley have already turned over two top five Premier League sides at home this season already, including reigning champions Man Utd and Everton.

Wolves and Birmingham have also adapted to life in the Premier League reasonably well, picking up points in some very hard-fought matches of their own. No doubt all three will finish in the bottom half of the table by the end of the season, but not one of them will go down without a fight.

In fact, it’s a few of the more mainstay Premier League clubs who are currently joining Pompey at the foot of the table. Bolton and Blackburn are already looking a little worse for wear, but when thinking about those clubs I automatically think: battlers.

Both teams play a rough and ready sort of game that often makes it difficult for opposing teams to score goals and sometimes allows them to scrape a few scrappy wins or at least hold on for a point. When thinking about how Pompey have played this season, I don’t consider them to have the same grit and determination to win battles in such a manner.

The stats say it all. Pompey rest at the foot of the table, having played four games and gaining no points. They’ve managed just one goal and, disturbingly, have already conceded seven. Bolton are next in line, playing three games, scoring two goals and conceding five. Finally, Blackburn have managed just the one point in their opening three games, scoring one goal and conceding four.

But how can stats from four (in some cases three) games into the season give me a sense of foreboding about the club?

It’s simple: they can’t. They can only paint the current picture. For me, the future of the club seemingly rests in the transfer market.

Transfers

It cannot be denied that Pompey’s squad has been ravaged of some the better players over the summer and more worryingly, most of these have not been – and perhaps could not be – properly replaced.

Emanating from the club’s worrying financial situation, a number of players felt at unease with their situation and the future of the club, losing faith in the club’s board entirely in some cases.

Attacking right-back, Glen Johnson was the first notable name to leave, securing a transfer to Liverpool thought to be in the region of £17.5m. Established England striker, Peter Crouch, was the next to leave, securing himself a move to Spurs, reuniting with former Pompey strike partner Jermaine Dafoe. Next, the backbone of their defence, Sylvain Distin, was snapped up by Everton. Finally, the last of their ‘stand-out’ players, Niko Kranjcar, joined Crouch at Spurs on the transfer deadline day for the diminutive (and seemingly ridiculously low) fee of £2.5m.

Time will judge whether the replacements Pompey manager Paul Hart has brought into the club will live up to the skill and capabilities of their predecessors, but with second string players such as Michael Brown, Tal Ben Haim, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Aaron Mokoena, Steven Finnan and Antti Niemi, combined with relatively untested Frederic Piquionne, Tommy Smith, Mark Williamson and Anthony Vanden Borre becoming the bulk of the squad, I respectfully doubt it.

Conclusion

I had hoped that running through this article would alter my perception somewhat. I hoped it would make me reconsider my initial judgment and look to the rest of the season with some hope for the club, but I think I may have done the opposite.

I just can’t see how Pompey can survive the current climate in Premier League, unless things change for the better – quickly.

Perhaps when the new transfer window opens if January, if things have not improved for the club, their new owner will realise the danger Pompey are faced with and attempt to buy the club out of the relegation zone.

And then the question becomes: will anyone of note want to join them?

I doubt it.

Kris Barton aka FootyBanter.co.uk

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2009 9:31 am

    i think popmpet are goners this year…losing the players thay have and not bringing in suitable replacements..the only saving grace for them is that there may be 3 other teams that perform worse than them which will save them this season

  2. September 11, 2009 2:02 pm

    Welcome to the team, Kris. When you get a moment can you email kathleen_preece@hotmail.com so I can send you some site stuff?

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