Note - I previously have called a blog "Pompey got 99 Problems". It seemed apt
Yesterday was a tough day for anyone at Fratton Park. It was tough for Portsmouth fans because quite frankly, Portsmouth played shit. I went to the game courtesy of The Sun’s football ticket offer and I felt ripped off paying a tenner for my ticket. I really do feel bad for the people that paid £23 to watch that shower of shit. It was a tough day for Derby fans as well. I mean, they played pretty shit themselves but they looked a lot more like a unit going forward than we did – and to lose all three points at the end must be heartbreaking. Especially considering Portsmouth did not deserve any points (I’m not sure if the FA can take points away for a poor performance, but we were nearing that stage). One thing which was proven yesterday is that Portsmouth FC is in deep trouble. News came out last week that the players are going to be paid late again which brings back old worries of administration and liquidation and we have a paper thin squad – some of whom seem to be under the impression that they deserve better than playing for Portsmouth. The purpose of this blog is to ask several questions about Portsmouth, and then discuss something which most fans probably won’t consider and will think I am wrong about. That is discussing whether relegation to League One would be such a bad thing.
1. The goalkeeper question. I’m not anti-Jamie Ashdown at all. I used to be but I recognise he has done alright this season but has been let down by a poor defence quite a lot (yesterday being a prime example). However, on a month to month basis, we hear that Darryl Flahavan has signed a new one month contract. Why is he not being given a chance? I don’t think he should be our no.1 goalkeeper, but giving him a chance every now and then so we can see how good he is might be useful considering he is our only other option at the moment.
2. Why if Tal Ben-Haim is under contract with us, why can’t he play? I accept there is a contract dispute with West Ham about him at the moment, but he is our player and is being paid by us. Surely this means that if he is fit, he can play. I hear that Ben-Haim’s agent came out and said “he will never play another game for Portsmouth”. Well, I’m pretty sure if he’s being paid, that’s a breach of contract. You never know what goes on behind the scenes, but if that isn’t breach of contract, what is?!
3. Ibrahima Sonko – discuss?
4. Aaron Mokoena, I know you are the captain but it might help if you displayed some form of leadership. Furthermore, I know a football can be a beautiful thing but if you could stop just looking at it, and hit it occasionally, we might stand a better chance of not conceding goals! I think we need a new captain.
5. Can someone just clear up this debacle surrounding the contracts of Richard Hughes and Michael Brown? It would seem they can’t play again without automatically having to be offered a new contract (I assume at the same value as their current ones). Now, I can’t speak for Michael Brown as he has been pretty quiet on the issue, but Richard Hughes has said “I just want to play football”. Well if that’s true, waive the clause and sign a new contract which allows you to play! You can’t want to play that much if you are prepared to do fuck all about agreeing a new deal! Furthermore, if you wait it out until the end of the season, earning premiership wages (this goes for Brown and Hughes), guess what will happen to you, you will end up on the free agent list. How can anyone scout a player who doesn’t play?! It seems so obvious to me, but then again, I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. I wish the club would just be open and say “we offered them both £10k a week, and they said no, so we withdrew the offers” or something!
6. Speaking of the free agent list, we have a tiny squad. Come on Lampitt, at least have a look at it! We could sign players to fill holes and back up positions we are low on and give our tired players a break every now and then. I wouldn’t have thought they would want that much per week either as they aren’t playing!
7. Liam Lawrence is a natural leader, and a good candidate for being club captain (I mentioned above we need a new one). But I have just one important question, why is he such a twat?! I can’t bemoan the fact he was angry about the QPR sending off (I don’t think it was handball and as such shouldn’t have been a penalty). But since that game I’ve seen Pompey twice, Brighton and Derby. Both times things haven’t gone his way with regards to officials decisions and instead of being a human and getting on with the game, he feels the need to give his two cents, Every. Fucking. Time. He also gets easily frustrated with his own play and when that happens, his head seems to drop and he might as well get sent off as there is no point in him being on the pitch. He tries too much to be fancy when what he really needs to do is concentrate on pumping balls to the other midfielders and strikers rather than trying to do too much alone. Now, yesterday it is unfair to criticise him that much (although he did do all the above things) but he received very little help at times when he needed it. But he needs to realise that if he keeps his head up and his mouth shut, then he’ll be a much better player. I accept its pretty rich of me, someone who couldn’t be further away from being a professional footballer to criticise a pretty reasonable player, but he is so frustrating!
8. What happened to Dave Kitson? He was pretty good when he first came here but now he just seems to be aggressive and apathetic to the team going forward. He just flicks his leg out at balls without any thought as to where it is going. It was embarrassing watching him yesterday at times. He made very few good passes, the flicks pretty much all went wayward – and with one he almost assisted a 2nd Derby goal! Any chance of getting back to scoring goals and not spoiling chances before they can even be made, maybe?
9. This season has made me realise that I really like Dave Nugent, but he really isn’t good enough for the premiership. What seems to be his main problem from where I am sitting is that he tries far too hard to get running before he has learned to walk. There was a chance in the first half where he was one on one with the keeper, and he scuffed the shot and was easily tipped wide. In the 89th minute, he scored an awesome goal from outside the box. I’d rather he scored 15 of the first chances per season than 5 of the awesome goals. But it appears that’s how he plays and I’m not sure it is an overly good thing.
10. Just what exactly is the point of Ibrahima Sonko?!
Ok, just from reading the above, you might have gathered that from where I’m sitting, there needs to be some serious changes to this team. We should have a good enough first team for mid-table championship action but honestly, who wants that for their club (excluding teams in lower leagues than us) but frankly the way we are playing at the moment doesn’t even deserve a mid table finish right now. It left me wondering whether us being relegated down to League One would be a terrible idea. Financially speaking, it wouldn’t be a benefit really as we would lose what little TV revenue we get at the moment but from another perspective, it might be very beneficial and very necessary. Here’s why
We would lose a lot of our best players at the moment. How is this positive you ask? Well, our wage bill would shrink and we would get to sign players and rebuild a team instead of having a patchwork one. Speaking of positions, GK wise, I wouldn’t see Ashdown going anywhere. Flahavan would likely sign a long term deal and we could sign a 3rd keeper. Defender wise, Mokoena would probably go, as would Ben-Haim, Hreidarsson and Rocha. We would obviously lose our loaned defenders as well. In their place, we sign talented youngsters and loan experienced defenders who would make a formidable back-line. Furthermore, getting Ben-Haim to fuck off will be a blessing for the wage bill! I’d try to keep Ritchie De Laet for another season if Man Utd would let us along with Joel Ward and Peter Gregory. Midfield wise, well we’d lose all out current midfielders. We’d get some form of money for Lawrence though so that would help matters. Plus with all 4 of them off the books, we could probably sign ten players and still have left over money from their wages. £36k per week Michael Brown...piss off! Striker wise, well Nuge would go as his contract expires in the summer. Kanu might hang around but I doubt it. Kitson would go so more transfer money and a smaller wage bill. I would make a real effort to keep Danny Webber and Nadir Ciftci. Despite the fact Ciftci has already said he’s going in the summer, he’d play a vital role in a League One Portsmouth side. TL;DR – We’d reduce our wage bill, remove players who don’t care about the club and sign a new squad of youngsters and experience. Loan players from Premiership/Championship and develop youngsters!
Another plus would be ticket prices. Now, I believe tickets cost too much anyway. If they reduced them to £18, you’d have a full house every week, rather than 14000 people coming through the door when its £23 a ticket (and most of them I’d imagine are season ticket holders). But, if we went down, they could reduce the amount to £15 a ticket. Now, that would get the real supporters through the door and return to the times where a family day out at FP wouldn’t be a ridiculous price. By doing this, you are creating a whole new generation of Pompey fans, who will assist in bankrolling the club for years to come. Plus one good thing which would come of it is playing new teams and visiting new grounds. I’d go and watch Pompey away at Bournemouth and Brighton (assuming they are still League One at the end of the season). I’m sure I’d go to others as well and that’s just me.
One thing which is possibly a major detriment to the club going down is its long term security. However, I feel that if the club went down, it would significantly reduce the asking price of the club, thus enabling a local business man to come in and buy the club and give sufficient resources allowing us to build slowly but positively.
Of course, this is all hypothetical, and I don’t know if it would all work out. But right now, I do not see the benefit of surviving this season and going forward with a tiny squad who are shit. Whatever happens, I will remain a Portsmouth supporter – I just want and hope for better things for the football team I love. Maybe a fresh start is what we need. PTID