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SEASON REVIEW: Pre-Season

In the 112 years Portsmouth has been established as a football club, never has the club been in the news as much as we were this season. For 12 months it was a certainty that picking up a newspaper would result in reading some story, often fictional, about how we owed money, failed to pay wages, fired staff, lied to other clubs, poisoned snakes and hid weapons of mass destruction. Or something to that effect.

Most season reviews start in August, but not ours, our season started on the 27th of May 2009, 3 days after our last season finished. News broke from an Arab business website that Sulaiman Al Fahim, a reported billionaire had agreed to buy the club. As the day progressed this news broke throughout the media and after 8 months of sliding downhill and losing several big name players like Defoe and Diarra, things seemed to be taking a turn in the right direction. I distinctly remember the names Tevez and Henry being mentioned on message boards with some degree of seriousness behind it.

However, buying a football club isn't like buying a toothbrush. Firstly toothbrushes don't change hands 4 or 5 times a year and secondly, we had to sit through several months of Due Diligence as well as a 'Fit and Proper Persons Test'. As fans eagerly awaited this transaction, it became apparent all might not be as it seems. Al Fahim seemed to be hiding something when trying to prove his funds, and meanwhile in the transfer market, Pompey had a complete clearout, releasing some big earners like Djimi Traore, Lauren and Sol Campbell. In addition to this we sold Peter Crouch and Niko Kranjcar (eventually) to Floppychops, Distin and Johnson went to the blue and red sides of Liverpool respectively and David Nugent left to spend 6 months at Burnley. Other departures saw Davis, Little, Thomas, Pamarot and Mvuemba leave on frees.

After seemingly clearing any debt with such a large scale evacuation, Pompey had a lot of space in the dressing room, so in came Kevin-Prince Boateng from Spurs for 4m, and Tommy Smith & Mike Williamson from Watford for a reported 5m between them. Paul Hart also brought in Tal Ben-Haim and Michael Brown for undisclosed fees. Steve Finnan, Aaron Mokoena and Antti Niemi came in on free transfers and many a loans was made with Hassan Yebda, Aruna Dindane and Frederic Piquionne joining for the season and Jamie O'Hara coming in until January.

Back on the pitch Pompey's pre-season started disappointingly, with draws at Havant & Waterlooville and Basingstoke. A 6-1 win followed at Eastleigh, before going back to Guimaraes for some memories, but this time without the results. A 2-0 loss to the hosts and a 4-0 drubbing against Benfica (as well as losing 2 pointless Penalty Shoot-Outs) saw Pompey finish last in the mini-competition in which the officiating was a little suspect to say the least. In the week before the season started Pompey looked decent against Rangers at Fratton Park, as well as giving some squad players a chance against Gosport, and picking up a comfortable 3-0 victory.

A bit of momentum is just what the team needed. All the off-field distractions however were not.

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The Journalist

Writer: PompeyFrippy Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday May 25 2010

Time: 10:00AM

Your Comments

I think we knew even then
russellm
Definitely the high before the abyss!!
eastneydave
The story - but without the emotions. Doesn't sound half as bad now.
PFCblue
Wouldn't say that just yet blue, still 10 months to get through.
PompeyFrippy
Oh my, it brings it all back. That pic of 'doctor' Al-Fahim all smiles, I was so excited that we were getting this billionaire owner and were set to be one of the rich clubs. Even when the cracks started to appear, I didn't believe it at first. No, it wasn't that - the stories suggested that our new billionaire owner was not what he seemed and I wasn't having any of it at the time. I seem to remember it started with the revelation that he wasn't really an actual 'doctor' after all.
tracyc
 

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