Season 08-09 - PFCGino's take on everything!
Well guys, the season is over, the turnstiles are closed for another season and we can all finally sit down and have a cup of tea and relax safe in the knowledge that we will be playing Premiership football next season.
Looking back on the season as a whole, it's as if we've been watching two completely different sides, and to be honest the beginning of the season has been almost forgotten to me. The last half, particularly the past few months have been absolutely nuts, and it really has taken the wind out of me as a Pompey fan!
We started the season with high hopes, and looking strong. We had a decent team, a fantastic attitude having just won the cup and people were expecting a lot from us - probably too much in my opinion. Defeats against Chelsea and Manyoo brought us back down to earth, as did the 6-0 defeat at the City of Manchester Stadium. Those games aside, we played generally well, with a 3-0 away win at Everton a highlight.
The excitement continued as we played in an exciting UEFA Cup encounter against Vitoria Guimaraes, and it was the icing on a very big Pompey cake to progress to the group stages. People who travelled to Portugal no doubt still talk about that game. However, Pompey's next trip to Portugal ended in a 3-0 loss against Braga, and the departure of 'him'.
This seemed to bring everything crashing down around us. Everyone at the club was suddenly unsure of the direction we were heading in, and our form on the pitch showed this; we became withdrawn and Adams tried his hardest but just couldn't get anything right on the pitch. Diarra and Defoe, our two better players, left us, with others including Distin and Kranjcar considering their long-term futures.
The only highlight, in my opinion, of Adams' reign was the AC Milan game. I won't go on about it, but we really went at them and I'm convinced we really did have a 12th man at Fratton Park that night and this spurred us on. We were unlucky not to get the 3 points, but I don't think anyone cared - we were 2-0 up against one of the world's biggest teams!
January came and went, with the most notable arrival being the very average Hayden Mullins and more poor results in both the league and FA Cup saw Adams lose his job on 9th February 2009. With temporary manager Paul Hart bringing in Brian Kidd, the team beating Manchester City 2-0 gave us fans a false hope as Pompey continued to drop points unnecessarily. Games we should and could have won were either drawn or lost, and it wasn't until two games before the end of the season safety was assured.
On the whole, it's been a very 'exciting' season, albeit not in the right way. The more appropriate word I guess would be 'stressful'! We have underachieved this season, and the team at the start of the season just crumbled away. There were only two shining stars for me this season: Glen Johnson and David Nugent.
Glen Johnson has been on the form of his life and without him we could really have been in bother. His attacking play has been second-to-none in our team, which says a lot for our attackers that a defender has been better. Nugent has been played out of position, on the left or right midfield, and fair play to him he adapted well and produced some VERY solid displays. He thoroughly deserved his goal at Spurs, and to be honest I didn't rate Nugent at all at the start of the season but now I really think he has a future at the club, such is his attitude and work ethic.
What does the future hold for Pompey then? Is the club for sale? Is there a buyer? So many questions, hardly any answers, and unfortunately we're in for a difficult summer. Keeping hold of Johnson, Kranjcar, Crouch etc will be difficult, but we definitely need to keep some if not all if we are going to go back to being a difficult team to beat next year.
I don't think Paul Hart is the right man to lead us forward. Too many dropped points, and although we had a few good results under him (namely Everton, Bolton and Sunderland), we were still very poor in games we should have won, and quite frankly I blame it on his inability to recognise that 4-5-1 DOESN'T work and playing players out of position is not only naive but dangerous. Nugent adapted well, but others haven't. Not only this, in interviews Paul Hart has made some ridiculous comments about Pompey 'overachieving for years' which is ridiculous - we won the FA Cup because we deserved to and we had a squad totally capable of achieving VERY great things.
If we are going to be any good next year we need to make some decent signings as a sign of intent. Granted, difficult to do when you have no money, but Michael Owen (albeit high on wages) and Viduka are available on frees this summer, and I think either of them would be great for us. We just need a manager like Bilic who can get the best out of our squad and inject a bit of passion. Aaron Mokoena is a step backwards in my opinion, and I don't think I could handle us being mediocre every season. It's frustrating when you know the quality is there but nothing's being done with it!!