Club Focus – Portsmouth – Cirque du Pompey

Just what is happening at Portsmouth at present is anyone’s guess. News broke on Thursday morning about an apparent non-payment of the last month’s wages for players. Needless to say Pompey fans were quickly hitting the panic buttons as the club that has been through just about everything in past year looked set to hit a new low. However, the club were quick to jump in and claim it was a minor cash flow problem and that the playing staff will be paid in the next few days. But just as the Fratton faithful breathed a huge sigh of relief at that news, they were quickly hurrying back to their panic stations again as Peter Storrie told ESPN Soccernet that all the club’s income had been used to pay off their debts and that there was indeed “no money left.”

It has left many Pompey fans with their heads spinning – which is an altogether familiar feeling after recent events on the south coast. Sulaiman Al Fahim’s reign has been a tale of baffling affairs in a never-ending saga since the Arab’s arrival and, whether there is any substance in this latest twist or not, Fahim’s credibility is on its last legs. Fahim seems to be distancing himself not only from the fans but his relationship with his own Chief Executive, Storrie, seems far from water-tight. Storrie is at a loss when explaining the club’s finances and it looks evermore as if the Pompey supremo is kept in the dark over many of Fahim’s plans – like the supporters, he is left waiting in hope on the Arab’s promises. As far as Storrie is concerned, there is no money and he and the club are relying on Fahim’s re-financing deal which is said to be completed in the next 10-14 days.”

Storrie said of the money issues: “I have no idea about the conditions of the £50m he says will be arriving in a few weeks. A quote that signals very little unity within the camp as Fahim continues to flatter to deceive. Whether or not Fahim has concrete plans that secure Pompey’s future is still up for debate and with such a huge match on the horizon, unsettling the players in this manner is the last thing the club needed. Pompey fans can only watch this space and hope their ever-decrying owner will come good and stop this ridiculous circus.

As stated above, this whole saga is the last thing Paul Hart needed before their crunch match at Wolves on Saturday. Gaining points against fellow strugglers is paramount to staying in the league, especially in Pompey’s current situation. The signs are there, it is now time to turn those promising displays into vital points. Make no mistake, Wolves is a winnable match. A point would get Pompey on the board, but seeing as the side are already six points off safety and in real danger of being cast adrift, three points are desperately needed.

Mick McCarthy’s men have been somewhat hit-and-miss this season with their defence being suspect on numerous occasions. Last Sunday’s match against Sunderland showcased the good and bad of McCarthy’s side, as they showed plenty going forward but their kamikaze defending saw them well beaten. After grabbing their first home league win of the season against Fulham in their last game at the Molineux, the home crowd will expect more of the same against a beleaguered Pompey. But the Blues have been improving every game and, although firing blanks up top, there is no shortage of chances being created. The game is likely to rest on the Blues’ quality in front of goal – something that has cost them dear so far this campaign.

The former Nottingham Forest boss is expected to name an unchanged line-up to the one that started against Everton, although Steve Finnan is back in full training and may get the nod ahead of Anthony Vanden Borre at right-back. In Pompey’s last away league outing at Villa Park, Hart opted for the 4-5-1 system with Kevin-Prince Boateng and Tommy Smith on the flanks – a system in which both players looked uncomfortable in and was ultimately changed for a much-improved second half. Whether Hart has learnt his lesson remains to be seen, as it is clear he likes the compactness the 4-5-1 formation offers, especially on the road. But with Boateng in such good form and the team growing accustomed to linking up their attacks with the former Tottenham man, Hart would be wise to show his belief in the side and go head-to-head with an unimpressive Wolves backline.

Portsmouth Club Focus

New-look Pompey fail to stop rot – September 15
Put your money where your mouth is – September 18
From bad, to worse, to downright horrendous – September 22
Wham, bam, thanks Dindane – September 25
Groundhog Day – September 29
Cirque du Pompey – October 2

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