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The Race For Europe #1

Everton, Bolton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspurs, Reading and Portsmouth are all fighting over three spots. Over the remaining few weeks of the season I will be running a series of articles called; "The Race to Europe." This will be updated any time any of the five sides play.

The seventh spot is now available, as Manchester United will be playing Chelsea in the F.A cup final (both already qualified for Europe).

Current Standing

5th Everton 54 (16)
6th Bolton 54 (-1)
7th Portsmouth 49 (5)
8th Tottenham 49 (-1) One Game In Hand
9th Reading 48 (4)

Remaining Fixtures

Everton

West Ham- Away (1-1)
Man United- Home (0-2)
Portsmouth- Home (2-1)
Chelsea- Away (1-3)

58

Everton have some really hard fixtures left: West Ham are fighting for their lives; Man U and Chelsea are different class and I can`t see Everton getting much against them. Portsmouth could become a huge match!

Bolton

Reading- Home (2-0)
Chelsea- Away (2-0)
West Ham- Away (1-1)
Aston Villa- Home (1-0)

61

Bolton face one European challenger and one title challenger, along with a relegation threatened team. There is no guarantee Bolton will pick up the required points over the next few weeks!

Portsmouth

Aston Villa- Away (1-1)
Liverpool- Home (0-0)
Everton- Away (2-1)
Arsenal- Home (1-0)

54

Portsmouth are lucky not to be in a relegation battle this year because our remaining fixtures are really tough. 54 points would mean drawing with Liverpool and BEATING Arsenal. Although neither have much to play for! Our two away games won`t be easy, a point maybe the best we can wish for.

Tottenham

Arsenal- Home (2-2)
Middlesborough- Away (1-1)
Charlton- Away (1-2)
Blackburn- Home (1-0)
Man City- Home (1-1)

55

Tottenham have three home games left of which I expect them to win at least two. Charlton away won`t be easy but I think they will get something at Middlesborough. They have good squad depth and are well equipped for Europe.

Reading

Bolton- Away (2-0)
Newcastle- Home (0-2)
Watford- Home (1-0)
Blackburn- Away (0-2)

51

What a superb season for Reading but I can`t see the remaining four games turning out well for them. I think they face two tuff away games, along with a couple of 50/50 home games. Although I think Europe is beyond Reading, it has been a great year for them.

Final Prediction

5th Bolton (61)
6th Everton (58)
7th Tottenham (55)

8th Portsmouth (54)
9th Reading (51)

I know I`m supposed to back Portsmouth but I think we`ll just miss out. I hope you enjoyed the article and I will keep you updated.




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The Journalist

Writer:  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday April 19 2007

Time: 7:47PM

Your Comments

Final standings as I think aswell. Remember 8th is an Intertoto place which is quite easy to get through these days. I expect Pompey to get in through that route.
benmcyid
Tottenham's game in hand is of course the North London derby, which always throws up an interesting encounter. Arsenal seem to get better results away from home, so this is not an easy game for Spurs. As a result, we need the Gooners to do us a favour and beat Spurs. I disagree about the Boro fixture for Tottenham as well, Boro are inconsistent but I think they will take all the points in that match.

Our immediate problem is getting a win at Villa Park on Sunday, no win and it's simply no UEFA cup place. seventh is a real possibility, though 8th is more likely and as benmcyid has suggested, we may well qualify through the Intertoto cup.
TruePompeyBlue
I tend to agree that we will miss out. There again if we get seven points I think we've got a great chance. to get those seven i think we need to win at both Villa and everton and draw one of the hoem matches! we'll see. i'd settle for some bizarre clash with a Romanian village side in mid June in the first extra preliminary round of the intertoto Cup though.
The Rabbi
Nice to see a non biased opinion. Personally I don't can't see us getting nothing at Charlton, but we will beat city at home, we always do. It will be tight and either us or you lot will more than likely get 7th and 8th, meaning 1 getting UEFA and the other getting intertoto as both went in for that, and that's a ***** easy route to it.
ScottDaYid
city win charlton win blackburn win boro draw arse draw 60 points 6th spot.
splash16
nope i \gree with the rabbi, for us it will be the Intertwobobcup, too many lazy games against inferior opposition have come home to roost, and i still feel annoyed about the time it took to get the message throught about these losses but with the return of Pedro, Sol, lauren, and with matty motivated and on form and the addition of a scoring striker the intertoto should be an easy qualification....DOH !!!!
russellm
the turn of the year we looked out of the league placings and in all of the cups. now we out of all the cups and firmly in the hunt for a uefa placing. what a crazy 'ol game it is!!!!!!
powerspur
Good to see Tottenham fans in confident mood! I hope that Europe doesn't act as a major distraction for us next season. The one good thing is that if Pompey get into the Intertoto Cup and manage to progress into the UEFA Cup, the final of that competition is at the City of Manchester stadium. Plus we would get to play in the Super Cup final against someone like Real Madrid, or AC Milan in Monaco in Nov 08 which would be nice. did I say confident?
The Rabbi
Not only will we miss out but we should miss out! For Euro footie you need a big squad you can rotate - we don't have that! Nor are we likely to. Settle for anything above 10th in the table, buy in some big players, consolidate and push for Europe next year! A couple of results go our way and suddenly we think we're Real Madrid! Get a grip.
WalshWasGod
WalshwasGod - please note when I wrote the above message, I had my tongue in my cheek and was dreaming while i wrote it. I like the ironic nature of writing about Pompey in Europe. My grip on reality has been so tight whilst following pompey I think I'm entitled to a little relaxtion?
The Rabbi
is Walsh really God, the father of our Lord Jesus?
The Rabbi
WalshWasGod - absolutely spot on mate (though I hasten to add I did notice The Rabbi's tongue in cheek remarks). I've been saying for quite some time now that any excursion into Europe will only cause us irreparable harm as we simply do not have the squad or the depth in the squad to contend with Premiership football, let alone the rigours of midweek European football that are often played on a Thursday. This will mean Friday flights home, then straight to the matchday venue or a series of Sunday kick offs instead. If we go Sundays, then we miss out on the live Sky Monday matches, so the loss of TV revenue will affect us there too.

All too often clubs have searched for the Holy Grail of European football, only to find that when they've discovered it,, all they found was a poisoned chalice. Unless you have the financial and physical resources of Manure, Chelski, Arsenal and Liverpool, then it will always be an extremely dangerous venture. You only have to look at Ipswich and Leeds for example, then there is West Ham.

Ok, so Bolton and Spurs have survived reasonably well, but just take a look at Blackburn, Newcastle and Middlesbrough - all have had a really poor season by their own standards, all affected by their misguided dream of Valhalla.

I fully agree with WalshWasGod, we need to consolidate this season with a few really sensible and effective signings, not on some dilapidated, aged, miserable, egotistical sod who has only scored two league goals since November. Then, when we have players committed to the club and what we are trying to achieve will we be worthy of our aspirations.
TruePompeyBlue
While trying to keep my feet on the ground, the thought of (any) chance of pompey playing in Europe is exciting considering our recent history (ie last 20 years). That said like everyone, I don't want it to have an adverse effect on everyday life at Fratton Park (ie domestic football). Whilst the movers and shakers (staff and players) at the club can worry about all that, us as supporters should be getting a little excited about it surely, even if it isn't going to happen. let yourself go, even if it is just for a few moments.
The Rabbi
The last time I let myself go, I ended up with four kids, lol!!!!
TruePompeyBlue
I think missing out on SKY Sports LIVE Monday night football can be lived with TruePompeyBlue as all clubs are getting that extra cash windfall from the new TV deal anyway... When you look at it there haven't really been a lot of Monday night games this season anyway has there, so will there be that many next season... It can be very costly if teams get into Europe too soon and maybe this would be too soon for us if it came next season but even so, putting aside our run down stadium, facilities and what have you if we were playing European football next season surely we have a better chance of attracting the kind of player we want to contiune moving forward? An early exit from Europe would still mean we've been in, and this would have already got us the players we wanted so the move up the league can carry on... All sounds simple in theory and if it came off is another thing but I'm basically thinking whatever will be will be now, if we make it great, I'll take it, if we don't then so long as we keep this squad and certainly add to it then a top 6 place is within our reach next season...
pompeyrug
...and it could be even more costly for us pompeyrug if we do not have the resources to deal with European football, hence the comments about Leeds and Ipswich who to their cost had ventured into Europe only to be relegated the next season.
TruePompeyBlue
Yes I know this and I've as much TruePompeyBlue... I think we all know what 'might' happen but who is to say this 'will' happen to us? Who is to say we won't go the Bolton route and be successful and build from it if we make Europe...
pompeyrug
...the fact that Bolton have forwards who can and do score might be a good reason why it works for them and it won't work for us. That is, until we get shot of Kanu and Lualua anyway.
TruePompeyBlue
if we get into Europe and are successful, just imagine all the kids across the continent who will come to know of Pompey. Our shirt sales will rocket in places like Moldova, Lithuania, and Azerbaijan. Who knows, even the England coach (whoever it may be) will be forced to come and watch us?
The Rabbi
Thought Duncan Fletcher announced his resignation yesterday? (Smirk!!).
TruePompeyBlue
Shocking as it may seem there's probably more chance of Duncan Fletcher appearing at Fratton than Steve McClaren. Why don't we organise for all Pompey fans to send McClaren an invite to Fratton park, with directions from Soho Square to fratton (watch out for traffic at Hindhead), and pictures of james, Taylor, and Campbell so he can identify them. It would get in the press.
The Rabbi
haha good idea
VitalPompeyAdmin
As VPA thinks it's a good idea, I'll have a chat with him later and see what we can come up with.
TruePompeyBlue
Five still shows Intertoto cup games and not only can you still qualify for UEFA this way but it's possible that we 'accidently' win the Intertoto cup at the same time.
Lysimachus
The argument that 'Bolton have forwards who can score might be a good reason why it works for them and it won't work for us' doesn't cut it for me TruePompeyBlue... Bolton: Anelka 12 (11 Prem), Davies 7 (6 Prem), Diouf 5 & Pedersen 1. Pompey: Kanu 12 (10 Prem), Benjani 5, Cole 4 (3 Prem), LuaLua 2 & Toddy 2... They may have 3 or 4 others cihpping in with 4 or 5 goals but others score for us also and we've still scored more and conceeded less... Anelka cost a damn site more than Kanu - not that I'm saying I wouldn't have wanted Anelka I would, but he wouldn't have stayed and probably won't stay with Bolton. Both have contributed all round for their sides ...
pompeyrug
Im too *****ed to contribute to what is the most sensible discussion i have seen for years,anyway anybody notice HR's comments about getting a specialist winger in.... i thought that was what Doula, Krunchie, Fernandes were meant to be and Routelidge ......tscchhh...and we mere mortals thought it was just left backs and non scoring strikers that were the main issues.pompeyrug am i missing the point here ? what are you waffling on about mate?:-( we suffer for a lack of goals, of course we want Anelka and or Davis you may note Anelka and Davis have both been out for fairly long periods of injuries and Bolton have more points than us.... not to say i wouldnt have Henry or Owen instead. LoL :-) or a back line consisting of..... actually find a quality left back, leave Dej on the bench where he cant do any damage and we are not too bad there.
russellm
The thing is Pompeyrug, there is a huge point you are missing here - yes Kanu has scored a whopping, huge, incredible, earth shattering 12 goals but as you rightly point out only ten of those are in the Prem and the most alarming statistic which you are totally missing is the fact that Kanu has only scored two league goals since the end of November - now that is a worrying statistic for a great many of us.
TruePompeyBlue
..or out another way, just over one league goal per month.
TruePompeyBlue
But the point wasn't goals scored since November was it - or infact just Premiership goals, it was goals scored all season. Kanu's whopping, huge, incredible, earth shattering 12 goals equals Anelka's and is only one less than Anelka's 11 in the league... Anelka is, and has been all his career a striker Kanu - only two goals since November or not isn't... But the point I was making was that your argument that Bolton's forwards score goals is why they can be successful and not suffer due to european excursions and we couldn't wouldn't apply as they haven't actually scored anymore than ours, and rarely do anyway... Besides my whole thinking and MAIN ISSUE TruePompeyBlue is maybe we aren't prepared for Europe next season but why should we think we'll go the same way as Ipswich, West Ham or Leeds? Why not think we 'could' go the same way as Bolton... Why do we have to take the negative route, why can't we think we can take the positive one? After the years of depression at Fratton Park I'm looking forward to a bright future with some real quality arriving in the summer that will see our continued improvement and an even better 07/08 season. If this involves european football this extra quality will see us cope...
pompeyrug
Quite simply pompeyrug, many Pompey fans are full of this "my glass is half full" crap and are blinkered to the reality of what has to be done. Yes, it would be great if we could emulate what Bolton have done, but we also need to keep our feet firmly on the ground first and build on what we have achieved this season - not rush head long into it, letting our hearts rule or heads. Bloody hell, I'd love us to win the FA Cup, the Premiership, the Carling Cup and the Champions League but I'm not daft enough to say we will or even believe we will - all I will believe in is the fact that it is possible, which is what a great many of us feel, but my glass is certainly not half empty, it just needs topping up a bit sometimes.

I've watched Pompey home and away for well over 20 years now and know full well what can happen as it has done during that time. Having got to where we are now, I'd rather us take our time and build on what we've got, I don't want us to be like Bradford are now. It seems to me that some out there want to go to Europe and damn the consequences, because they can say "we did it" when really it could be a sever case of "Damn, we had it all and threw it away", just for the sake of another season.

The positive route is simple, it is the one that has been discussed at the Central Branch Supporters Club by the coaching staff and by Peter Storrie as one of stability, to build for our future and not to stack it all on uneven foundations. As they say, it is a marathon, not a sprint.
TruePompeyBlue
I know it isn't personal TruePompeyBlue but you aren't they only one with 20 years experience, I'm not one of the bandwaggon jumpers that have turned up sicne we've been 'good', I followed us through the days when we were well below '*****' also. I may not have the 20 years you do but I've still been through plenty of years of these dark days so you don't have to tell me what we've seen - and this isn't having a go at you either, just wanted to clarify where I stand incase you thought I was a 'new breed' of fan as I'm not... Agree, it is just that a marathan not a sprint, I'd love it to happen and have believed all season - since before it started that we would make it into europe, I just had this feeling, but if it doesn't I'll not be overly disappointed as it's still been a remarkable season... If we make it we make it, if we don't we don't, we'll build and be stronger next time round. Whatever will be will be now is my thinking...
pompeyrug
pompeyrug - at no time have I taken anything you've said as being personal, I've taken it as a very honest opinion, which I respect. In addition, I am not one of those people who call anyone new or slightly new to the club as "JCLs" (Johnny Come Lately) as some less intelligent so called supporters do.

Each and every point you have made is well constructed and argued, I may though not always agree with them any more than you would with mine.

The point I was trying to make though was that with Pompey, you get hardened to the darker times as we have been through it all; Reading have yet to experience that really as they have never done any better than they have in the last five years, they've never been in the top tier where we have of course, albeit a very long time ago.

Me, I just take each game as it comes, this league is not as predictable as some would think - after all, just take Manure and Watford two weeks ago. I'm just pleased we are in the Prem and will be again next season, I don't care so much about Europe as I do about us staying up. We will one day qualify, of that I am absolutely certain, but I don't think it will benefit us if we do it now.

On the subject of Reading, if Steve Coppell is so keen to say they are not ready for Europe and don't want it, then why the hell doesn't he rest a few of his top players and let someone else move above them?? Methinks it's all talk with him.
TruePompeyBlue
....further to the "JCL" issue, for those numpties out there who go on about JCLs, perhaps they should remember that they are our club's future - I don't care how many new supporters we pick up, we need them to keep us alive.
TruePompeyBlue
At some point in following Pompey, surely all of us have been a 'Johnny come lately'? Eventually after a painful breaking in period, we become 'long term' supporters. Then we have kids, get married, and our little 'Johnny (and Sharon) come latelys jump on the Pompey bandwagon and get bored by us 'long term' supporters banging on about how it was better with Walsh and Whittingham, the queues for the toilets are as bad as ever, and we don't won't to get into Europe anyway.
The Rabbi
Er, I'll have a pint of whatever The Rabbi is having!! Agreed though, we have all been JCL at some point in our lives as Pompey supporters or indeed any other club you may be supporting. Everyone has to start somewhere, so the whole issue of JCL is in my opinion is disgusting and pointless - it also shows the type of idiots that some clubs attract by calling newbies "JCLs" - we need new supporters, all clubs do in order to survive.
TruePompeyBlue
 

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