Date:Sunday November 26 2006
Don`t anyone say 'I told you so`…
Gary O`Neil was quoted in the papers recently saying that the next seven days will shape the season for Pompey.
Well, although the games haven`t come against Liverpool and Aston Villa, I would say the season has already been well and truly tied up for Pompey, and although the bubble hasn`t burst quite yet, the air is quickly exhaling and the slip to mid table is about to happen.
Don`t think I`m criticising the Portsmouth squad and Harry Redknapp. Far from it, they`ve overreached themselves already this season, and every fan is rightly glad for it. But what really ticks me off (and I mean ticks in the strongest sense of the word) is the fact that everyone will be smiling smugly at the Portsmouth`s lacklustre performance at Newcastle.
They seem to take delight in the fact Portsmouth have injury worries to contend with, the fact that they haven`t won at St James`s Park in the league for over half a century. The level of expectation, raised by the media and NOT the Pompey fans, has meant Sunday`s lacklustre performance has finally given all the tired journalistic hacks the chance to write off Pompey`s season.
But, hang on a minute; do people forget that this is Portsmouth we are talking about? The new signings are all well and good, but they weren`t exactly world breaking, now were they? The ones that are doing the business, Kanu, Andrew Cole, Sol Campbell, David James et al, are solid, not too expensive journeyman, with a good amount of talent that Redknapp has readily exploited. The new boys, Nico Kranjcar, Manuel Fernandes etc will probably be great for the future but they aren`t going to be lighting up the Premiership any time soon.
And I`ve managed to remain agnostic about the constant rejection of James` England call-up. Until now, that is. It may be because I live with a Tottenham constantly bleating on about how great Robinson and Spurs are, but the fact is that James is ten times the 'keeper he is on current form.
But no, a flap against Watford meant that the world was ready to re-establish his moniker of 'Calamity`, and his chances are more than likely over. Forget the fact that time, time, time and again he has come up with frankly world class saves when other England elects are picking the ball out the back of the net. Forget the fact he is the only English keeper in the top six at the moment, when the rest are languishing around the relegation places.
I used to be behind Steve McClaren`s decision to rebirth the England squad. But with such glaring omissions, I have to question his reasoning and whether he would rather have a squad that was his alone but didn`t actually win much. I`m certainly not saying that James should be given the number one jersey, but surely he should be in the squad ahead of Carson and Foster, who do have bright futures, but they are just that. Futures.
So to all the nay-sayers, those that were waiting with baited breath for the first uninspiring Pompey performance, those that think that the South Coast`s finest are punching way above their weight, I have just one thing to say.
I agree with you, but we are the team that just escaped relegation season after season, who are new to top half of the Premiership. Wait a few more years before you jump on the bandwagon, because otherwise you`ll destroy the chance to see a team actually improve itself, which is something the Premiership, amidst the chaos of high ticket prices, over-inflated wages and egos, and managerial stand-offs, actually desperately needs.
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