Farewell Sacha - Thank you
It was on 4th January 2006 that Milan Mandaric announced that Alexandre 'Sacha' Gaydamak was now a co-owner of the club having bought half of his share in the Pompey. His first move was to make funds available for the manager to purchase Sean Davis, Pedro Mendes and Noe Pamarot from Spurs for a reported £7.5million. This was without doubt the biggest factor in Pompey avoiding the drop from what had seemed a hopeless position.
The next season 2006/07 was to see Pompey finish in their highest league position for over fifty years and come within a referee's whistle of qualifying for European competition for the very first time. Players the like that have not been seen at Fratton Park for many years are signed on such as England Internationals David James, Sol Campbell and Glen Johnson (on loan) along with Croatian 'wonderkid' Niko Kranjcar.
The atmosphere around the club changed, rather than being a club looking just to survive talk was of breaking into the top four. This was further fuelled the following season with even more major signings added to the squad including John Utaka, Sulley Muntari and David Nugent. The club register six successive away wins in the league coming up to Christmas and again when the transfer window opens the Gaydamak cheque book was out and Lassana Diarra and Jermain Defoe were added to the payroll.
On 17th May 2008 it all proved worthwhile and the FA Cup was lifted high into the West London sky by a proud chairman, on a day none of us will ever forget. Ironically it was Kanu, a player bought for nothing that sealed that historic victory.
But at what personal cost was that triumph to Sacha? We were soon to discover the answer. In the close season Peter Crouch was signed but Sulley Muntari and hero Pedro Mendes were sold and then in September the club have to deny the 'For Sale' sign is hanging in Frogmore Road but add that serious offers will be 'considered'. The next month the club's manager also decided to jump ship for what he considered more stable pastures.
As the global economic downturn continues on 7th December, almost exactly to the day two year after taking over total control of the club, Sacha announces it is officially up for sale and Diarra and Defoe as sold soon after.
So Sacha's short term at the helm has been a real roller-coaster ride with over £100 million of players being bought and sold. The media have never taken a liking to him, always intimating that he has using his father Arcadia's money to bankroll him. His father even once listed Pompey among his assets in the Israeli press.
It is all over now and while some fans want the club to continue full steam ahead, the majority would welcome a spell of stability followed by slow but sustainable growth.
It is difficult to sum up succinctly the three and a half years that Sacha was at the club and only time will tell whether it was a stepping stone to a long and successful future. One thing I know I can say for all Pompey fans is 'Thanks Sacha and good luck for the future'.