Date:Wednesday May 21 2008
The 2007/08 season came around with many of us full of optimism on what that season ahead would bring. Although many of us expected good things few of us could have really known what we were to get...
By the time Saturday August 11th came round and our opening day trip to Derby took place we had already seen plenty of comings and goings - Sylvain Distin arrived on a free from Citeh, Sulley Muntari broke the transfer record in the process when he signed from Udinese for around £7m, Hermann Hreidarsson arrived on a free from Charlton to mixed reviews, Martin Cranie moved along the coast and then Dave Nugent finally completed his would he wouldn't he move from Preston for a fee between £4.5m and £6m. On that same day John Utaka was also unveiled as our new club record signing, something between £7m and £8m was paid for the Nigerian who arrived from Rennes.
Although a fair few did leave Lomana LuaLua was the highest profile casualty as the season got underway, he took his talents to Greece, which I still see as 'taking the easy route out' to be honest - but the simple truth was he was not wanted here and Olympiakos wanted him, so it was an easy decision to make.
So then, to Derby away - teams that have been promoted are not ideal first day opponents are they and so this proved. Distin, Hreidarsson - who had a mere, Utaka, Muntari and Nugent all made debuts but we were stunned as after only 5 minutes of so we were behind! Benjani equalised before half time and on the whole from then on in you thought we would go onto win and when Utaka marked his debut with a goal late on you thought that would be that. Derby however had other ideas and equalised a minute later - so we started with a 2-2 draw away, not bad as it could have been worse but it could have also been better in all honesty...
Manyoo were the first visitors to Fratton of the 2007/08 season, coming to the coast for a Wednesday night game under the floodlights - these floodlit games are always special ones. Cranie came in for a debut with us suffering from defensive problems with injuries - this is the last thing you want against a team like Manyoo, but they hate coming to our place and again they could not beat us despite taking the lead. Benjani headed us level with the night being remembered also for two red cards, firstly to Muntari who marked his home debut in a style he had been accustomed to in Italy, then minutes Cristiano Ronaldo went for a 'butt' on Richard Hughes. Two games played, still unbeaten and 2pts on the board, 1-1 on the night.
We stayed at Fratton for our next fixture as the sky sports cameras came to town for our lunchtime meeting with a poor Bolton side. Nicolas Anelka gave Bolton the lead but Kanu marked his first start of the season with a goal to level things up soon after, with us having a goal disallowed moments before. 'The king' then played his part in a storming goal by Utaka - blistering pace saw him burst through from half way before rounding the keeper to score one of the goals of the season. Matty Taylor scored with a late penalty to give the scoreline a 3-1 finish, we at last had our first victory of the new season.
A week later we went to Chelski, we always lose at Chelski so although I went into the game believing this would change sadly it did not as we lost 1-0, our first defeat of the season... I still to this day maintain that we were robbed as we did more than enough to warrant at least a point, without having my Pompey specs on I still think that had we come away with all 3pts few could have complained, even though they would have!
We ended the month with a league cup-tie against Leeds, this was played at Fratton and a much changed basically second string, yet still an impressive side did the business. A double from Noe Pamarot and a first competitive goal for us from Nugent seeing us into the next round, 3-0 was a slightly flattering result for us in the end though.
Before the month was out Andrew 'the mercenary' Cole had his contract paid up and eventually found his way to Sunderland - where he did not last long - and Dejan Stefanovic completed a deadline day move to Fulham. The major surprise was the deadline day move to Boro by Gary O'Neil, the fans favourite becoming the first major sacrifice of the season, he would prove to be a major loss in my opinion and I often wonder 'how much better' our season would have been had we kept him...
Joining us to mixed reviews were Papa Bouba Diop - if he could not get into a struggling Fulham side how come we wanted him and so on - and Glen Johnson - he was rubbish last season, so why will he be any better now etc. - both signing on the dotted line on deadline day.
5pts from a possible 12 on offer for the month was a fairly decent return, particularly when you think that we faced Manyoo and Chelski. We 'should' have beaten Derby though in all honesty, but not to dwell the season moved on as did we...
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Date:Wednesday May 21 2008
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