Spyin' Kop - Portsmouth v Liverpool - 19/12/09

Posted by SalisburyRed on December 18, 2009, 01:19:59 PM

Little did I think when I put my name down to write this column in September that when the fixture finally came around Liverpool would be sitting sixth in the league, 13 points behind Chelsea and level on points with Birmingham City. But here we are. We've stuttered our way unconvincingly through much of the past couple of months, and now find ourselves with a lunchtime kick-off against the side propping up the league in what's inevitably being described as a must-win game for us. We've had quite a lot of them recently.

Let's spare a thought for Portsmouth fans though. We've had a tough season, we all know that, but it's something that Pompey fans can relate to. With three wins all season, their side sit five points adrift of safety. There's hope at Fratton Park that Avram Grant can use his experience to get them out of trouble. Time will tell whether the problems this season have been tactical, or just down to poor players. Of course, if the players are to blame, there's litle that the club can do, with a transfer embargo currently in place, and a sense that even if they were free to trade, there would be no cash with which to buy players anyway. Portsmouth fans are in for a tough 2010 then. Oh, for the halcyon days of Harry...

Portsmouth v Liverpool
Premier League
Saturday, December 19
Fratton Park, Portsmouth
Kick-off: 12.45pm



Portsmouth FC club honours

Football League First Division (first tier) champions – 1948/49, 1949/50

Football League First Division (second tier) champions – 2002/03

Football League Third Division (third tier) champions – 1923/24, 1961/62, 1982/83

FA Cup winners – 1938/39, 2007/08

FA Charity Shield winners – 1949 (shared)

Portsmouth also won a host of now defunct competitions pre-World War II. Details of this can be found on Wikipedia.

For this edition of Spyin’ Kop I spoke to the good folk at Fratton Faithful who told me how poor they think their team are, how they’re glad Paul Hart has left, and how the Fratton Park atmosphere is nothing to shout about. Many thanks to all who contributed – I’ve included a handful below. The full set of responses can be found here. All responses below are unedited, so spelling mistakes should reflect badly on them! ;D

1. So, Portsmouth are lying bottom of the league, five points from safety. At the start of the season were you worried you'd find yourselves in such a situation?

powered_by_PFC - Initially no, when the news of Al Fahim's takeover was announced. But as it got closer to the start of the season, it became obvious that we were going to be in trouble. A lack of preparation - mainly down to Fahim's constant stalling and the never-ending Due Dilligence - was never going to help us.
jon - It's pretty much as expected
Badgerman2 - The protracted takeover left us in shambles before the season started. We were already well aware that we were financially up the duff, but even still, to see the majority of the first team squad flogged for money with no re-investment was somewhat disheartening.

Come August I was expecting us to be propping up the table for quite some time and, whilst the results didn't surprise me, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of games where we could have taken something (not that that's worth anything).
PompeyRback - Not worried, more 'resigned'.

2. Was getting rid of Paul Hart the right move? Will Avram Grant be able to turn your season around?

powered_by_PFC - Yes and yes. Hart was a nice guy - and as the saying goes, 'nice guys finish last'. Sadly, he was living up to the saying. He seemed to have the team on his side, but the one thing that let him down was the one thing we needed. Tactical knowledge. Avram has that in abundance. It's ironic though - during Hart's reign we were playing good football but not gettng the results. Under Avram, our football's been bilge, and yet we've had a healthy haul of four points in the last two games. Avram reads the games and is quick to react. Hart would just play it out and hope for the best. Clearly, that didn't work.
jon - Definitely and Hope so.
Badgerman2 - Paul Hart would have been gone a lot sooner were it not for the brief upturn in our fortunes. However which way you look at it, it took us 7 games to register a point this term and that is just suicidal at this level. Not to say that Grant would of had us vying for a European place had he been in charge, but we might have picked up points with more tactically astute decisions with someone else in charge, that is what I believe Grant can (and arguably has already) deliver.
PompeyRback - Same squad, same problems, maybe some more ideas, certainly with substitutions.

3. Both Liverpools and Portsmouth know something about ownership problems. How worried are you about the future of your club?

powered_by_PFC - I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried. But it's got to the point now where it's tranquil in my head, and my mind is singing 'que sera sera'. We'll find out in January how bad things really are. If we can't get the embargo lifted, or have enough money to sign a couple of reasonable players, then we're clearly right up the creek.
jon - When you owe the amount we are reported to and the income doesn't come close to that amount and you've no assets left to sell, then where do you go from there?
Badgerman2 - I wouldn't necessarily describe us as being in similar situations. You have two rich billionaires having a bit of a lovers tiff whilst we have perfected the art of finding Arab conmen without a penny to their name.

Regarding our situation, it'll sort itself out eventually. Stability isn't really our thing so we'll potter along until we settle on a happy medium of either going out of business or becoming the richest club in the world.
PompeyRback - Not worried. Club will carry on in some format. People without jobs, without enough to eat and those that lose loved ones have worries. Football fans need context.

4. Which Portsmouth players should Liverpool’s fans (and players!) be looking out for on Saturday?

powered_by_PFC - Boateng should be back to full health by then, and combined with O'Hara, they're a deadly pair. They make the midfield tick. Kaboul will serve his match ban against Chelsea, so will be rested and up for it again come the weekend. Dindane could give you problems, if he remembers where he left his shooting boots that he took off after the Wigan game.
jon - O'Hara and Boateng are half decent. Kanu can be devestating for about 15 minutes.
Badgerman2 - Pff...

Erm.

I suppose James might have an interesting hairstyle or someone might have a pair of quirky coloured boots on...
PompeyRback - None - David James is as entertaining as ever, but you need to fear noone.

5. And who's your worst first-team regular?

powered_by_PFC - It was Mokoena. How that man can class himself a 'premier league player' is beyond me, but thanfully, he seems to have dissapeared. I'd say our worst current regular is perhaps Wilson, but not for lack of trying, it's just he's still learning after being thrown into the defensive deep end. He's getting better, though.
jon - Lol. Wilson, Brown, Mokoena, Hughes, Dindane and Piquionne shouldn't be anywhere near a Premier League team.
Badgerman2 - I don't really feel like weighing up the merits of horse shit Vs dog shit.
PompeyRback - Too tough to decide - Mmm, let me think - Mokeona! Can't even spell it.

6. What do think of the atmosphere at Fratton Park? What songs are we likely to hear?

powered_by_PFC - Atmosphere's taken a real dive at the park. We were once known as some of the most vocal and passionate supporters, but with what's been going on in and around the club, people have just become dispondant, which is both unerstandable, and frustrating. However, now we seem to be picking up points, people may find their voices again. And yes, Westwood will be there, bugle and bell in tow, so expect a lot of 'ner ner nerring' and pompey chimes. Hopefully, someone might be man enough to start something new or different, but don't hold your breath.
jon - Pretty crap of late. Sign on, you've nicked my stereo and loads of "calm down, calm down"'. All the originals.
Badgerman2 - It's not too surprising that when fans are treated to the worst team in the division week in, week out, with speculation of administration, a transfer embargo, players not being paid, the media taking the piss and a global economic recession, that spirits have dropped ever so slightly. In desperate need of a pick-up really, it would be nice of Liverpool to leave us 3 points as that might do the trick.
Jumper - WECAN'T SING SONGS BECAUSE OF A SAD FECKER WITH A BELL
PompeyRback - Same one over and over - Nar nar nar nar nar nar - Boring!

7. Do you have any particularly fond memories of clashes with Liverpool over the years?

powered_by_PFC - The only one that sticks in my mind is last year's clash, only because Adams was sacked the next day. I still remember the Liverpool fans singing 'you're getting sacked in the morning', and thinking to myself 'if only.' Turns out they were right!
jon - The semi-finals in 1992, until the penalty shoot-out...
Badgerman2 - There aren't all that many from recent times, perhaps knocking you out of the FA Cup a few years back was one of the highlights - In particular I remember Owen missing a soft peno. Other than that, Hamann's goal at Anfield was a belter.
PompeyRback - Yes, Lge cup at Anfield one dark night about 20 years ago(1-4) , FA Cup semi final, Winning 1-0 at Fratton in our first Prem season.

8. Let's talk tactics. How are Pompey going to line up on Saturday?

powered_by_PFC - No idea. That's the beauty of having Grant in charge. He doesn't just stick the same old tea out week-in, week-out like Hart did. He's not afraid to tinker, so tinker he might well do. I'd expect a bit of an attacking line-up though. Beware of Kanu if he comes on - he might be a million years old, but he's architcted the capture of our last four points, and seems vital to our squad right now.
jon - Probably one up front, a dodgy defence, a creativity free 5 man midfield and calamity in goal.
Badgerman2 - In fear.
PompeyRback - Badly.

9. Obviously Liverpool have had a poor season so far. How do you think it'll end for us? Will we get into the top four?

powered_by_PFC - Difficult to tell. Rafa seems to be doing a good job of imploding, but let's not forget at least one of the big 4 seem to have problems each year - last season it was Chelsea with Scholari, although they changaed manager to suvive. Perhaps it really is last orders for the Spanish waiter after all.
jon - Unless you sign some players in January I can't see you making the top 4. Think Spurs, Villa and Man City will all finish higher as well.
Badgerman2 - Your mob is in real danger of missing CL football next year. A team built around two players, one of which (Gerrard) looks pretty dejected about the current state of affairs.

Last year you had a fantastic foundation to build on. A quality squad with great depth, a great midfield and arguably the best player in the world offering a real possibility of a new PL winner. Unfortunately, Real came knocking and took out the lynchpin of your team, exposing backup players like Lucas as just not being able to cut the mustard.

It's a bit of a shame really because Liverpool were definitely trending upwards under Rafa's reign, but this sudden drop off has left you fighting the likes of Villa and Man City rather than Man Utd/Chelsea/Arsenal.
PompeyRback - No you'll finish sixth.

10. Which of our players do you fear the most?

powered_by_PFC - Let's face it, Torres and Gerrard make your team tick, and without them - no offence - you lack that spark that the other teams have. Same for us if we lose Boateng or O'hara.
jon - Torres, Gerrard and Benayoun. That really is it.
Badgerman2 - Torres, easily the best player in the world for me. He deserves a better team around him than what is currently on offer.

Liverpool need to reinvest pretty sharpish to keep him because the big fish, small pond scenario isn't going to last too long when you have clubs spending silly money.
PompeyRback - Torres and Gerard

11. Give us a score prediction.

powered_by_PFC - I'm going to be honest. I can't predict this one until I know the line-ups for both teams. If you have Torres and Gerrard, I expect an away win. But if one or both are out for you, and we have a full strength squad, then I'll fancy our chances.
jon - 1-1
Badgerman2 - Could be anything really. 2 extremely inconsistent teams, the deciding factor being whoever turns up on the day.
PompeyRback - 0-2

12. Would you rather see Portsmouth avoid relegation or England win the World Cup?

powered_by_PFC - Easy. Pompey to avoid relegation. There will be many chances over the years for England to win the world cup. If we're relegated, it'll be aeons until we're back in the top flight. We're hanging on by our finger-nails as it is.
jon - England win the world cup
Badgerman2 - It's been 8 months now since the takeover nonsense began and I'm feeling a little bit disenfranchised with the club. I keep waiting for a Mendes moment to spark us into life but it just isn't forthcoming.

At this moment in time I'd rather see England win, only because us staying up seems like such an impossibility. Really hope that I'm wrong though.
PompeyRback - As Portsmouth can't, I hope England do.

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