Pompey season review - August
Summer 2006 has been reviewed - so with the anticipation and wait over, the 2006/07 season was with us. Players had come and gone, with the income of personnel on and off the field vastly improving what we already had.
Saturday 19th saw 19,523 fans at Fratton for the seasons opener against one the previous seasons surprise packages Blackburn. Maybe there were not the 'wholesale' changes to the starting 11 that took to the field that day many expected, but three of the new arrivals started - David James, Sol Campbell and Glen Johnson.
Svetoslav Todorov gave us the perfect start, putting us ahead on 26 minutes. On the hour Kanu emerged from the bench and his first action in a Pompey shirt was to score after only two minutes (62 minutes). Moments later Lucas Neill was given a second yellow card, so he was sent off. We could and should have scored more before we did get our third - Kanu's second - on 84 minutes. He was given a chance to get a hat trick after being fouled by Andy Todd - who was sent off as a result - but he had his penalty saved by Brad Friedel, then put his rebound wide.
Our season was underway with a 3-0 win over Blackburn, we sat proudly top of the league!
Wednesday 23rd and we were off to Manchester to face City, this would prove a match we would not forget - but for reasons other than football. Kanu's two goals as a substitute a few days earlier earned him his first Pompey start, other than that we remained unchanged.
The evening proved one of frustration for Pompey and despite having the better of the chances we had to make do with a point. The thing that will always be remembered from this game though will be the shocking 'challenge' from Ben Thatcher on Pedro Mendes. With eyes fixed firmly on Mendes - and Mendes alone - Thatcher connected with a forearm smash that almost took Mendes' head clean off, before he crashed into the advertising boards. He was immediately rushed to hospital but miraculously escaped major injury. Thatcher was awarded only a yellow card, but worse was to come for him with a lengthily suspension, hefty fine and the end of his City career - a move to Charlton followed and he caped his season with relegation, justice severed eh?
After our 0-0 with City we dropped a place to 2nd, runners up - not so bad!
Monday 28th rounded off our month with another away game, this time a visit to Boro for what was quite possible our best performance of the season - certainly the best away performance I would say for some years? Noe Pamarot came in for Glen Johnson for his first start of the season and David Thompson made his first Pompey start for the injured Pedro Mendes.
No frustration on this away trip, one of the highlights of the season as Pompey ran Boro ragged! After Kanu's 7th minute opener we did not look back - but did have to wait until the 2nd half to secure a comfortable win. Kanu's run from the halfway line - that is right the halfway line, you did read it right - ended with him out on his feet but with a second goal (50 minutes), some say he never recovered from this! Benjani opened his account for the season on 57 minutes with super sub Svetoslav Todorov getting the fourth in injury time.
A 4-0 win over Boro maintained 2nd place in the league at the end of the month.
August also saw further transfer activity at Fratton with Ognjen Koroman returning for a second loan spell at the club from Terek Grozny - one of only a few appearances saw an impressive showing as a sub against Boro. Another loan deal, that so many had expected - and even thought would be a permanent one - saw the bizarre dealing that brought Manuel Fernandes - finally! - to Pompey on loan. Andrew Cole arrived from City for £500,000, Niko Kranjcar from Hajduk Split for £3.5million and Rudolph Douala on another long term loan deal for the season from Sporting Lisbon, all on deadline day. Activity the other way saw fans favourite Svetoslav Todorov make a surprise last gasp loan move to Wigan as the midnight deadline loomed.
Had we signalled our intent for the season, would there be better to come or was this the tip of the iceberg? August was a month I knew I enjoyed immensely but September was a month I was looking forward to with an even greater expectation - particularly as the fixtures looked 'quite tasty' on paper!
PLAY UP POMPEY!