As we’re coming to the end of another football season, I thought it would be time to analyse whether it’s been a success of failure for Portsmouth FC.
I think the most important thing for Pompey fans is that the club are still in existence. This time last year, it was a rather depressing state of affairs, with the threat of going into liquidation very real. However, I personally never doubted that the club would pull through, and despite many of the problems which are no doubt still there, the most important thing is that the club has come through what was hopefully the worst part.
Surviving in the Championship was, therefore, the main priority for this season. It now looks as though Pompey will finish in mid-table, which is a perfectably respectable position. Of course, there are fans who want to be back in the Premiership as quickly as possible, and rightly so. I heard recently that the (Barclay’s – seems to be always mentioned nowadays) Premier League is the most watched league in the world. Wherever you go there is always support and interest in the latest game. Still I struggle to see the attraction of a match like Wigan v Blackburn but there you go.
However, I think the key to the club now is stability, and do we really want to go back up and spend money which we don’t have? Granted we all hope that the same mistakes won’t be made, but if we’re desperate for a couple of players and we get them and we go down, we’re stuck. Tal Ben Haim, need I say more.
Also, in terms of entertainment, I think the Championship is right up there. OK, so the quality might not be always there, but what you get every Saturday afternoon is usually quite a few goals and a number of incidents to talk about. It’s nice going into every game as well thinking ‘this is winnable’ too. That’s certainly something you can’t do in the Premiership. For a club like Pompey, it’s more of a ‘let’s not get beaten’ mentality. So you’re already going into the match in a negative way, surely it shouldn’t be down to that?
So Pompey are now a stable, Championship club and all’s good. But could it have been better?
With the talk of the play-offs not too long ago, it shows how far the club did come from that disastrous start to the season. Just like last season, it seems our start let us down. And just like last season, we actually had a half decent team which could have gone places. The FA Cup run showed that last season, and that winning run earlier on this season. So with a few more wins we might have been talking about playing at our second home, Wembley come the end of the season.
Most of the managers who seemed to see Pompey, certainly earlier on in the season, saw them as one of the best sides in the division. Yes, on paper. In reality? The backbone was there: Ashdown, Hermann, Rocha, Mokoena, Mullins, Lawrence, Nugent and Kitson. All solid players who have proved their worth over the years. If we’d had them for every match I would think we would be in a higher position. Natually, you need a bit of luck to go their way, but overall that’s the basis for a decent side.
It seems though that a combination of reasons meant that we weren’t going to be able to build upon this start. Indiscipline, which I’m afraid starts at the very top (Mr Cotterill) has cost the club far too many times this season. It’s simply not good enough. Injuries always seem to be pretty common but certainly don’t help with our squad size. Most of all, maybe these players just didn’t perform? They’ve all shown they can in the past, so why not now? motivation? interest?
I would view this season then as a learning curve. It’s good to just take a step back and although it might be boring, just have an average season. Let’s face it we’ve seen over the past few years some of the best ever times at PFC and the very best players. What a sight it was to see Lassana Diarra playing in El Classico last night. Yes, Pompey helped him get there. But a few years to become a more stable club is ideally what is needed for Pompey.
To survive this season was the aim, and it was mission accomplished, making the season a success. Although things could have been better, it wasn’t to be.
Still, it leaves the fans with the hope of a promotion push for next season! Onwards and upwards!