Spyin' Kop: Portsmouth at Anfield (29/11/06)

Posted by Rushian on November 28, 2006, 06:51:47 PM

It's good to touch the green, green grass of home ...

Thanks to the kind boffins who run the fixtures computer at the FA, we have our second home game in 5 days on Wednesday at what's become Fortress Anfield. If only they could organise 38 home games a season for us ...

Up next for the mighty Reds are high-flying Portsmouth, who started the season on fire thanks to some astute summer purchases from Harry Redknapp. David James, Sol Campbell and Glen Johnson arrived to bolster the defence and Nwankwo Kanu is currently joint top scorer in the league alongside Drogba. A few injuries have stalled their great start, but they remain dangerous opponents.

Mirroring Pompey's problems, the Reds will be without a host of players for the game. Alonso, Sissoko, Zenden, Gonzalez, Aurelio, Kewell, Warnock are all injured and Bellamy unlikely to make it back from his court appearence in Cardiff in time. This leaves just Garcia, Pennant and Gerrard fit in midfield forcing Rafa to either rejig the formation, play a centreback out of position, or draft in some youngsters.

Liverpool v Portsmouth
Wednesday 29th November, 2006
KO: 8.00pm
Referee: Alan Wiley, Burntwood

The Club

Portsmouth FC was founded in 1898 by the brewer John Brickwood and joined the Southern League. They played their first home match, a friendly, at Fratton Park against Southampton. 108 years later the club still plays at its original home, and still enjoys a "healthy" rivalry with their near neighbours on the south coast. Pompey boast the oldest football chant in the world, the "Pompey Chimes" which is sung to the tune of the Westminster Chimes. They inherited this right at the start of their history, when fans from the recently disbanded Royal Artillery club transferred their allegiance to the newly formed Portsmouth FC.

Their early years were built on strong performances in the Southern League and a famous giant-killing over Manchester United in the Cup. By 1920 Pompey had won promotion to the Third Division and by 1927 had risen to the First Division for the first time. They initially struggled to avoid relegation but managed to stay up and establish themselves as one of England's most important clubs in the run up to the Second World War. In that period they reached three FA Cup Finals, finally winning it in 1939 with a 4-1 win over Wolves.

Following the cessation of hostilities in 1945 Portsmouth, with crowds booming, went on the most successful run in their history, winning back to back league titles in 1948-49 and 1949-50 with club legends such as Jimmy Dickinson and Peter Harris in the team. They are one of only five teams to achieve this feat since the war (the others being us, Wolves, Manchester United and Chelsea).

After 32 years in the top flight Portsmouth were relegated at the end of the 1958/59 season. This marked the start of a long period in the lower divisions for the club, often marked by financial problems. The one bright spark was the promotion back to the top division under Alan Ball for the 87/88 season, but problems on and off the pitch saw them immediately relegated.

Modern Portsmouth really begins with the purchase of the club in May 1999 by Milan Mandaric. After initially trying Tony Pulis, Steve Claridge and Graham Rix in the hot seat, Mandaric found the right man when Harry Redknapp was appointed manager in early 2002, after a spell as Director of Football. He teamed up with former manager Jim Smith a few months later and the venerable duo immediately guided Portsmouth to promotion to the Premiership, winning the Championship by a wide margin.

Portsmouth have remained in the top division ever since, with Harry Redknapp leaving and then coming back and Mandaric selling his interest in the club to Alexandre Gaydamak along the way. Investment in the playing staff by the new owner has seen Portsmouth able to spend serious money in the transfer market for the first time, and their results this season bear testament to the improvement in quality of their squad.

Club Honours

League Champions: 1948-49, 1949-50
FA Cup Winners: 1939
FA Cup Runners-up: 1929, 1934
Charity Shield: 1949 (shared)

Most Appearances for club: 834 Jimmy Dickinson, 1946-65
Most Goals for club: 208 Peter Harris, 1946-60
Record Attendance: 51,385 v Derby County, FA Cup, 26 February 1949

We took a trip to the Pompey Online forums to ask our usual mix of inane/brilliant Spyin' Kop questions.

How has the season been shaping up so far? Does it match the expectations you had in August?

monty185 Beyond all expectations. I knew we had a chance to play well this season, off the back of the last 8 games or so of last season plus a relatively easy opening few fixtures, but to be 4th going into December is just unbelievable. It won't continue, and we have a very tough run-in at the end of the season, but comfortable midtable will mean a good season and is a realistic expectation.

ZanooJJ Far exceeds! Key signing was Tony Adams - a sound defence is what keeps teams up in the Prem.

paulpfc Way above expectations so far to be honest, although we were hoping for a top half finish that was more hope than expectation. But after our great start its not entirely unrealistic we could challenge for a UEFA place.

Cambridge Blue Far better than expected.

bexley blue Far better than we all thought but given our run-in, a good start was vital. There would have been no great escape this season.

ratty So far it has gone way beyond expectations, however, things seem to be returning to type now with injuries and gutless away performances kicking in.

Who do you think is your most important player(s)?

ZanooJJ David James.

Equinox David James, Sol Campbell and Linvoy Primus. Would you take those three on without a few pints inside you?

paulpfc So far this season Jamo (sure he'll get a good reception back at Anfield) Sol and Linvoy Primus.

Cambridge Blue Jamo, Linvoy, Sol, Pedro and Benjani.

bexley blue David James.

ratty For me it is David James at the moment. He has stopped us losing one one or two occasions.

Your worst player(s)?

ZanooJJ We'll probably have to draft them in on Wednesday.

Equinox They're out on loan somewhere in Portugal - don't worry about him - them, er whatever.

paulpfc We have shipped out most of our dead wood and what weve got doesn't really get near the first team anymore. Pamarot is a favourite for the boo boys though and O'Brien.

Cambridge Blue Sad to say Dejan, been very poor.

bexley blue O'Brien.

ratty Hmmm - I s'pose I am gonna go with Stefanovic, but he has been playing with an injury so judging him on this is harsh. I don't think anyone has been that bad to be honest!

Do you have any particular memories (good or bad) from previous encounters between Pompey and the Reds?

ZanooJJ Matty's goal in FA cup game, when he scored at the Kop end with the Liverpool fans singing, 'attack, attack, attack'. It's little wonder the lad ran so fast to the other end to celebrate.

Equinox Are you kidding! 1992 and you couldnt beat us so kicked us off the park - FA Cup semi final. Nah, you lot won't remember it, but to us it was a big game and your team had the sort of attitude that everyone now accuses the Mancs and Chelsea of having 'we're the big boys so we deserve the win' - that kind of arrogance never goes well in Pompey.

paulpfc FA Cup semi final, say no more ...

Cambridge Blue FA Cup semi 92 we was robbed!!

bexley blue As others have said, the semi final.

ratty Damn right! Bad - losing on penalties in the FA Cup Semi Final in '92 after 240 hours of stalemate football! Good - knocking you out the cup 2 years ago!

Any young up and coming players in the squad that we might not know about?

monty185 We've got Harry, he doesn't do youth!

ZanooJJ Niko Kranjcar, however he's still finding his way in the English game.

Equinox Yes, but won't share it with you!

paulpfc Discounting Gary O'Neil, no.

Cambridge Blue Gary O.

bexley blue No.

ratty Ha Ha Ha, you having a laugh? The only up and coming player we have had for donkey's years you tried to buy!

What sort of line-up will Harry put out against us given your current injury problems?

ZanooJJ No left-back - reckon he'll field a team of reserves.

Equinox "bare bones innit" - you will hear comments like "I need to go shopping in January", "We're short of cover at the back" and "Dejan's out, Matty's carrying a knock and Griff can't afford the bus fare back from Stoke."

paulpfc After the shambles at Newcastle hopefully a team who just might cause a few problems - will probably stuff the midfield and play one up though.

Cambridge Blue 4-5-1 and pray!!

bexley blue Hope he doesn't go to Anfield and play 4-5-1 as we're absolute pants when we do. I'd attack you as you're very thin on the ground through injuries at the moment in central midfield and left side.

ratty Sadly he will probably go for one up front again and it will be a lacklustre affair with you winning by 2 goals to 0. We have no defenders left fit for the left hand side so I guess he might go 3-5-2 which may give you a problem. To be honest, chances are we will lose so we may as well go down all guns blazing but I doubt we will!

Apart from the Pompey Chimes, what's your favourite/best chant or song?

ZanooJJ The Chimes is a classic chant, there can't be a second best.

Equinox I loved the "we are staying up" of last season.

paulpfc Chim chimeny chim chimeny chim chim cheroo, Who needs Wayne Rooney when we've got Kanu!

Cambridge Blue Blue Army repeated a zillion times.

bexley blue Going to send the scummers down - two seasons ago. Got another airing the other night when London Pompey and Saints had a pool and darts challenge.

ratty Oooooh, tricky one. I am a personal fan of "You'll Never Make the Station" and "Drink a Drink a Drink to David Kemp........" but we'll probably just go ner ner ner to some fat coont with a bell!

Where do you expect Portsmouth and Liverpool to finish in the Premier League?

ZanooJJ Too many variables to say at this stage of the season - injuries, how far you'll progress in cups/Europe.

Equinox Pompey - 10th. Liverpool - haven't a clue.

paulpfc Top half, I'd say 8th or 9th would be fantastic.

Cambridge Blue Pompey mid-table, Liverpool 4th-ish.

bexley blue Liverpool 5th. Pompey 8th/9th.

ratty Liverpool - top 4, I hope you get top 3 as you're a class team. Pompey - anything above 10 will be fantastic but unlikely!

Which Liverpool player will cause you most problems?

monty185 If he's playing in the centre, it goes without saying it'll be Gerrard. Our midfield pairing in Mendes and Davis has gone off the boil slightly in the last couple of games, and if he's on form, I can see him overrunning us in midfield. Does depend on Xabi Alonso or Sissoko being fit though.

ZanooJJ Not sure who you have fit? Would have said Gonzalez - pacey on the flanks (with no first choice LB/RB then you can understand why this would be a problem).

Equinox One in a red shirt I reckon. Especially if they score a goal, yeah that's it the player in a red shirt that scores a goal will be our biggest problem - so that's 10 problems

paulpfc Stevie G of course, oh and a certain lanky ex-Pompey player is bound to score.

Cambridge Blue Stevie G no question.

bexley blue Gerrard. Went to Anfield for our recent FA Cup game when we got a lucky late equaliser. Gerrard that day covered every blade of grass and I'd go as far to say that that was the best performance from anyone I'd ever seen.

ratty Hmmmm Bellamy, Crouchy, Hypia, Riise, all of them to be honest!

What's the story with the ground redevelopment? Will Gaydamak go ahead or do you see yourself moving elsewhere and the Fratton Park site being redevloped for commercial development?

ZanooJJ Nothing. Probably won't happen in my lifetime the way it's going.

Equinox Elsewhere.

paulpfc Who knows to be honest, reckon we will plump for Fratton due to planning but if we can move out we will so the land can be sold. Either way we'll have a fantastic new ground if it ever gets started.

Cambridge Blue We've been waiting since Victoria was on the throne we can wait a bit longer ...

bexley blue Think it will. Would love to see it at Fratton still but as long as it's close, or on Portsea Island and good pre-match pubs, I'd be happy.

ratty Looks like it's going to be away from Fratton if it ever happens at all. I would prefer staying at home and redeveloping, or building a ground in Peckham where I live!

With much talk of foreign ownership being bad for English football, has it been good for Portsmouth and should Liverpool be worried given the investors currently circling us?

ZanooJJ It has been good for Portsmouth. Don't see the problem really - I suppose it depends where it money has originally come from. I'm sure with Milan the money was from the US - they can spare it. Where Sasha gets his money from has already been speculated in the press.

Equinox Rather a Russian than a Yank.

paulpfc Been great for us, so far. Seeing as you are a much bigger club than us can only think that anyone who does buy into you has gotta be pretty damn serious about it too. When it's a smaller club like us you never know what the buyer is thinking when they take over.

Cambridge Blue Don't think it's bad at all unless you get a bad one of course. Footy is big business and you need big bucks to keep up.

bexley blue It's been nothing than good to us. Firstly Milan saved us and got us promoted then Sasha has taken us on to another plane.

ratty Good question. We have gone from having one of the maddest chairmen in football, who was truly one of the fans, to a shady, silent figure who no one knows anything about. I prefer the former by far but I suppose Sasha looks like he has some dosh and has shown quite good commitment to the team so far. Too early to say though. In terms of you guys I would be worried! Liverpool should stay British owned!

Given a choice would you prefer Portsmough to win the League, or Southampton to go bust and disappear from football as a club?

monty185 Pompey to win the league obviously. Nicer to have Southampton as our south coast minions.

ZanooJJ Tough Question. You've made a typo, it's scum (with a small s). Pompey win the league.

Equinox I would like 'them' to get promoted so we get derby games back. I would like us to win those derby games and every alternate year send them down.

paulpfc Win the league, no question.

Cambridge Blue Yes to both.

bexley blue Want to see 'em squirm for another few seasons and then come back up. Really miss the derby games and having 2 premiership clubs on the South coast was good for the area.

ratty Win the league, with Southampton in it and beating them both home and away in the process. If they disappeared there would be no one to hate and ridicule.

And finally a prediction on the score?

monty185 Another 3-0 probably.

ZanooJJ 3-1.

Equinox If we play like we did at the Boro then 2-0 Pompey. If we play like we did at St James' Park then 2-0 scousers.

paulpfc 3-0 reds unfortunately.

3-0 Scousers.

bexley blue 2-1 Liverpool.

ratty Reds 2-0 Blues.

Thanks once again to everyone on the forums over at Pompey Online for their answers to our questions.

© Rushian 2006

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