Pompey season review - May
Summer, August, September, October, November, December 2006, January, February, March and April 2007 have been reviewed. We struggled since Christmas - maybe a little before - but April revived some optimism we could finish with a bang.
May got underway on Saturday 5th, with the penultimate game taking us to Everton. We had to do without captain Dejan Stefanovic, Richard Hughes and Matty Taylor, all due to injury so Noe Pamarot, Sean Davis and Niko Kranjcar came in.
We were not very adventurous on this day - as usual away from home - but we were holding our own until a 3-minute spell in the second half. Firstly Mikel Arteta's 59th minute penalty put Everton ahead, then in the 62nd minute Joseph Yobo added the killer second. The game was over but to add insult to injury Gary Naysmith scored with his first touch in injury time to make it 3.
The 3-0 defeat to Everton rocked us, but the most frustrating thing was the way results went that weekend meant a draw would not have been bad! We dropped a place to 8th and a chance was missed.
With a uefa cup place up for grabs the season ended on Sunday 13th with 20,188 turning out for the must win game - and even that might not have been enough - at Fratton against Arsenal. The one and only change saw Lauren miss out through injury as Richard Hughes returned.
We played like a team that were nervous and despite Arsenal fielding a 'weakened' side - with no first team regulars named on the bench, all youngsters - but we failed to have a go. Arsenal had all the chances and could have taken the lead just before halftime but Julio Baptista had his penalty brilliantly saved by David James. You would have thought that would have sparked us into life, but it did not really. A moment of pure controversy decided our fate in the end as Graham Poll ruled out what we thought was Niko Kranjcar's late winner for offside.
The 0-0 draw with Arsenal was not enough. As it was a win - had Kranjcar's goal not been disallowed - would have been enough to have made the uefa cup the way other results went. As a result we dropped a further place to 9th.
A season that offered so much ended in disappointment really. Yep, we finished 9th, our highest place in the top flight for more than 50 years, a place we would have happily taken a year before but after such an amazing start - albeit against 'easier' sides - it could and should have been so much better.
We can argue all day long that Graham Poll cost us a place in the uefa cup by wrongly disallowing the goal, or more to the point putting the thought into his assistants head that Kranjcar was offside for him to agree, but poor performances on the road and negative tactics - along with late points thrown away and a little too much complacency cost us if truth be told. On Sunday 13th May Poll cost us a win, but over the course of the season we cost ourselves.
It was still a fine season but it is important we learn lessons from our failings in 2006/07 to ensure we do not repeat them in 2007/08 - as if we do it could cost us more than just missing out on a uefa cup place, let alone a finish top 10.
PLAY UP POMPEY!