Date:Monday August 20 2012
You would be forgiven for thinking that Pompey's squad had been together for a while, at the bar minimum the duration of pre-season, if you did not know otherwise based on Saturday's showing against Bournemouth, right?
Although the stark reality is Appy assembled that squad a mere 48-hours before kick-off, in fact a few did not even have that and had not even trained with their new teammates, maybe even met them before Saturday morning!
Ok, ok, I know a good few actually did spend some time together during pre-season as 'trialists' but hey what a show Pompey put on, on and off the pitch, in a cracking south coast derby on a blinding afternoon at Fratton...
Quite clearly we tired as the game went on but a 'we will get better and stronger' message is one that Appy sent out: 'we're only at about 60 per cent of what we're capable of. We're nowhere near where we should be physically.
'If we can get a little bit of luck over the first four or five weeks of the season then we'll be okay.'
Not only had some of the players never met before, possibly, Appy only met his central defensive pairing the night before - who were both fantastic: 'we've put the team together over a period of just 48 hours. I said to the lads that we didn't have any right to win that game.
'Six or seven of the boys have played together for a few weeks and they've got a good idea of how we want to play.
'But we've also got two centre-halves that I met the night before in the hotel. They've had a long drive down from the north and they did ever so well.'
Like I said we 'tired' as the game went on, this much was quite clearly evident and Appy knows this, but again fitness levels are not where they need to be - 'if' he can keep this squad together they will be...
To be fair to Bournemouth they did pressure us a lot in the 2nd half, although we did drop deeper but this seemed to happen more the tireder we become. Given the heat it was hardly surprising, it was hard enough from the stands let alone running around in it!
All-in-all Appy was happy with a point and thinks it a fair result: 'we were hanging on for a bit for around 20 minutes in the second half - a few of our lads' legs went.
'We're not quite up to match fitness yet, but I thought we thoroughly deserved the point because of how we played in the first half.
'We got deeper and deeper and deeper but they kept at it and defended really well.'
Without a shadow of a doubt a point was the least that we deserved!
As always, and quite rightly so, the fans got their mention from Appy too: 'the one thing that is incredible about this football club is the fans. I've said that since the day I walked through the door.
'They'll continue to back the players - whoever we put on the pitch. They'll always stick with them.'
In many ways it was a case of 'the same old same old' with missed chances something you feared would come back to haunt us, and indeed they did - that said Bournemouth were probably thinking the same though with the chances they missed.
Yep, a thoroughly enjoyable game all-round and a draw - 1-1 probably should have been more like 2-2 or even 3-3 though! - that was the right outcome.
If this is a sign of what is to come this season, for as long as it lasts, I will be more than happy I tell you that!
PLAY UP POMPEY!
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Date:Monday August 20 2012
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