Yes you heard right, Portsmouth did indeed win a match on Tuesday night. Okay, it was at League 1 side Carlisle but that wouldn’t have dampened the spirit of those die-hard Blues who travelled the 700-mile round trip to witness a victory they have been so desperate for. As much as things should be put into perspective after overcoming a side at the level of Carlisle (with all respect), there were still plenty of positives to take from the match. Aruna Dindane made his first start for the club – a surprise for the travelling Blue Army as the Ivory Coast striker was expected to sit out until the end of the month as he searched for fitness. But despite many worrying it may have been a little premature, the Ivorian stepped up to rescue his side after going behind early on. The former Anderlecht man showed plenty of quality and along with Danny Webber, a potent strike force was quickly established – one which the Carlisle backline failed to contain all match, with both strikers getting on the scoresheet.
Again, it should be pointed out the level of the opposition but it has been a rare sight in recent months that Pompey’s strikers have looked so threatening. Frederic Piquionne has impressed in every area but the goalscoring department, while the jury is still out on Tommy Smith and his capabilities at Premier League level. Admittedly, Webber’s situation is similar – as many believe the Championship is his peak – but his sharpness and eye for goal in midweek was promising. Dindane too, showed much quality and his strength and ability on the ball has left Pompey fans desperate to see him hit full fitness and start firing in the league – although Saturday’s game with Everton will surely come too soon.
Once more keeping with the positives, new arrival Hassan Yebda put in a powerful display at Brunton Park and with skipper Aaron Mokoena currently struggling to impress, Yebda could yet find himself pushing for a first-team spot. However, it must be said Paul Hart has given no indication of dropping the South Africa captain but fans are becoming restless with his poor showings and his quality on the ball has been shocking since his arrival. Even with his poor form, the former Blackburn man is unlikely to be dropped with Hart placing much faith in his skipper and has been quick to claim his attributes to the side.
After the win at Carlisle, fans have been soaking up the winning feeling again. The visit of Everton is a much more daunting task with the Toffees hitting top form over the past week. Their demolition of Hull in midweek was preceded by comfortable wins over Blackburn and Rapid Vienna as David Moyes’ side have found their goalscoring touch. The return from injury of former Pompey star Yakubu will boost the visitors’ ranks but it is a match Hart will look upon as winnable and, in their current plight, the winnable games need to be won. With Everton likely to line-up 4-5-1, Hart will be tempted to go man-for-man in the centre of the park in a bid to contain the creative flow of Steven Pienaar, Marouane Fellaini and Tim Cahill. However, the Fratton faithful will be desperate for a positive formation with many decrying Hart’s 4-5-1 system, especially at home. Two up front would certainly show the belief Hart claims he has in his side, although the worrying prospect of Everton’s midfield being granted too much space may just force the former Nottingham Forest boss’ hand.
On a different note, Pompey’s survival bid took a further turn for the worse this week without the side even taking to the pitch in the league. Sulaiman Al Fahim has again come under fire after he was quoted in the Spanish media as stating he will not be making funds available in January. “We’ll probably start signing next summer when we have the necessary liquidity to do so,” warned the Arab tycoon, thus raising fears an injection of funds may well be too late by then. The team could be in the second tier by then with logic pointing again to Fahim struggling to raise finances for the club. Fahim claims he is modelling the club to that of Arsenal and Barcelona in regards to developing youngsters but that is all a distant pipe-dream at present and he needs to drop his ambitious plans for now and concentrate on consolidating Pompey’s Premier League status.
Al Fahim was set to meet with fans today to answer their burning questions but Pompey’s supposed saviour sensationally pulled out last night stating he was “concerned that the coverage generated will distract the players from their preparations for Saturday’s crucial game.” However, in the wake of an almighty backlash from the club’s fans, Fahim has been forced to put the meeting back on, raising yet more concerns about the Arab’s credibility. Indeed, the club could have found itself in administration had the mega-bucks Arab not stepped in, but his reign thus far has been dogged with a distinct lack of substance and his communication with fans has been nothing short of shocking. The fact that sources such as the Spanish or Dutch media are printing miscellaneous quotes from Fahim but no words directly for the fans whatsoever further frustrates the Blue Army. Friday’s grilling from Fratton’s desperate fans was supposed to provide some much-needed answers, but in the wake of his cancelling and subsequent u-turn – he’s just created more questions.