Date:Friday August 8 2008
The Football league may kick off tomorrow, but the official season curtain raiser is 24 hours later, and it involves our beloved Pompey.
The Champions of 08 play the FA cup winners of 08 in a fixture which holds little significance for the season ahead, but does supply a showcase for the two winners of the top domestic trophies.
This doesn't mean either team will be taking it easy however, Pompey have been installed as underdogs once more, but if we roll over and die it will hardly bode well for the future of the England national side, 5 of Pompey's expected line-up were deemed good enough to have represented their Country within the last 12 months!
Pompey will have a familiar look, Muntari will be absent after his move to Inter, but hopefully Diarra will be fit to prove he could of kept Domenech in a job after missing all France's Euro flops.
Mendes looks like he has stepped back into the good books, he is showing signs of becoming a first choice in midfield again after a bit-part last season.
The back 4 should be identical to that of the first choice of last term, after missing out on Shorey Hermann gets another chance to show he is worthy of the left-back slot on form rather than lack of choice, Distin and Campbell will start in the centre, but you can bet your kidneys that Primus will make a fairy tale return somewhere along the lines.
On the right you have a choice of Little or Utaka, Little has been a bright light in the pre-season matches, and his competition maybe the catalyst for a more consistent season from Utaka the otter.
Upfront and Defoe can at last play at Wembley domestically, after missing Spurs' Carling win and being cup-tied for ourselves, it will surely be a point to prove exercise for him. Partnering him will be Crouchy, 2 metre Peter has returned to the good side of the South coast, this time as an England regular rather than a lanky prospect, he will hope to hit the ground running and show his Sid and Eddie act will be a success for England as well as Pompey.
He is the only guaranteed new face to start, but he is familiar to the Wembley turf and is a handful even if he isn't in front of goal, but then again he is going to score isn't he?
Man United have had a successful pre-season, but it has been at a cost, Rooney has gone down with a virus, Ronaldo is a couple of months off of a return, Carrick and Hargreaves doubtful and Neville returning after a year out.
Upfront Fraizer Campbell may get a chance to show what he is worth, while Tevez will be the only regular striker available.
Anderson is chasing Olympic gold with Brazil but Paul schole will spray passes around from the centre of the park as he has done for the last 43 years in the Man United engine room.
Maybe getting on, but he is the Jesse James in Man United's posse, getting slower in the legs, but not in the brain department.
Well they beat us last time out in Nigeria, but in this first part of a competitive double-header it will be a bit more nip and tuck ith Pompey surely being more open than in Africa.
Not Naughty Clattenburg
After the Champions, its the cushy job of Chelsea at the Bridge a week later.
Date:Friday August 8 2008
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