Pompey season review - summer 2006
Pompey had pulled off a miraculous escape to avoid relegation at the end of the 2005/06 season, so after breathing sighs of relief - but let us not forget we more than deserved this escape, it was not a lucky one - the nations attentions turned to the world cup finals.
As always England entered as 'one of the favourites,' but don't we always? Yet we always falter! This time though it would be different they told us - again.
Under the expert tutelage of Sven Goran Eriksson - and his would be successor Steve McClaren - England's 'golden generation' would deliver and the world cup would come home, being made all the sweeter by being won on German soil.
Needless to say England flattered to deceive, in what was ultimately a poor world cup finals on the whole. As always we crashed out on penalties and again to Portugal, in no small part due to United's number one 'winker' Ronaldo.
Alas we could now turn full attention to what promised to be a high activity summer with our transfer record being broken repeatedly - or so we thought.
Pompey were linked to anyone who could play football, Sulley Muntari - fresh from a fine showing from the world cup's surprise package Ghana - was heavily linked along with his Ghanaian international captain Stephan Appiah, neither arrived, well Muntari did 12 months later for a club record £7million!
Gareth Barry, Jermain Defoe, Sol Campbell, Stilian Petrov, Yakubu, Juan Vargas, Nicolas Anelka, Manuel Fernandes were some of the names banded about, many of whom involved big money moves, with so many said to have only needed minor details sorted out - some came off, many did not.
Players were leaving, or being released including - and most unfortunately in my view - Brian Priske and John Viafara. I sill feel these fellas suffered the 'we are not 'arry's boys' treatment. Others, including some of Redknapp's own signings, but many of Alain Perrin's 'flops' were either send packing, did not have contracts renewed or the options of signing them after loans were not taken up.
The first Pompey signing of the summer would be one of a number of current, or former England internationals, this man being Tony Adams. The legendary former Arsenal defender - and quite possible one of the greatest defenders this country has ever produced - joined the Pompey coaching team as Harry Redknapp's number 2 - our defence has not looked back since!
A second England international, Glen Johnson, became the first playing member of the side to arrive. A loan move secured his services from Chelsea for a year.
One real surprise arrival saw free agent David Thompson join the club. The former England international had been released by Wigan. Berlin Ndebe-Nlome, a player we had on trial during pre-season, cunningly disguised as 'Berlin' was also offered a contract too.
With the season rapidly approaching the much anticipated deals we had been hoping for were not arriving, but with the season upon us Redknapp - with much help from Adams - pulled off the major coup of signing Sol Campbell who had left Arsenal to seek a 'new challenge'. And a bottle of water was all it took! If only we had known that sooner, all the 'will he, won't he, surely he won't, he will you know, nope he won't after all,' would not have been needed.
Kanu was plucked from the park, where he had been 'keeping himself fit running - or as is more likely 'jogging' - around it,' arriving as another free agent signing after his release by relegated West Brom. The first 'real money' spent saw David James arrive from City the following day for £1million; this was not well received by Dean Kiely!
Maybe we had not signed the players we had expected for the monies spoken about, but who could have really complained at what we got! We signed quality proven international standard players and expectation for the coming season rose as we prepared for Blackburn's visit to Fratton on the opening day.
PLAY UP POMPEY!