Portsmouth’s situation hit breaking point on Saturday, as firstly they were sickeningly downed by two of their former employees, before their injury crisis grew even further as Danny Webber and Hermann Hreidarsson joined nine others on the sidelines. If that wasn’t desperate enough, Hreidarsson’s horrendous injury – believed to be a snapped Achilles tendon – looks certain to curtail not only his season, but probably his Pompey career.
The 35-year-old Icelander has become a real terrace favourite since his 2007 move and his non-involvement at Wembley in under a fortnight’s time just epitomises what a cruel time this is for Pompey. While everyone from staff to players to fans have had to suffer such a miserable 18 months, the trip to Wembley next month was everyone’s silver lining. But for that now to be so cruelly taken away from one of the most committed and genuine footballers this league has to offer is a footballing travesty. It’s also worth noting, that Hreidarsson, who will celebrate his 36th birthday in July, faces a fight to rescue his professional career – which now hangs in the balance. However, if there’s anyone primed for that fight it’s the ‘Herminator’.
Few would doubt an eventual return before the calendar year is out, but just where he’ll be plying his trade remains to be seen. But if Saturday’s defeat at White Hart Lane is his last in Pompey blue, he’ll leave behind plenty of fond memories. His six goals in a Pompey shirt have all been greeted with exuberant and passionate celebrations while his ‘body on the line’ approach to defending endeared him no end to Fratton Park goers. But perhaps Hreidarsson’s most famous moment on the south coast was his antics during Pompey’s FA Cup victory parade back in 2008 where he spent the afternoon enthusiastically bouncing around the stage in pure elation following his greatest triumph as a player. It was that kind of genuine emotion that will forever warm Pompey hearts, but whether the sight of their Icelandic hero walking back on to the Fratton turf will again be allowed to warm hearts on the south coast still remains to be seen.
Added to Hreidarsson’s woes, was that of Danny Webber who too was stretchered of at the weekend, with a knee injury. The extent of the injury is still unknown but he is almost certain to miss April 11’s Wembley showpiece. Its just two more to add to a ludicrous injury list – now at 11, plus Aruna Dindane whose services cannot be used for the time being and Quincy Owusu Abeyie who looks set to have his loan move terminated in return for precious cash – which threatens to usurp Pompey’s Wembley bid before it even begins. At this rate, there’s going to be some wildly excited youth players in with a chance of featuring at Wembley, the situation is that desperate. Avram Grant’s side finished Saturday’s game with a makeshift back four of Hayden Mullins, Aaron Mokoena, Steve Finnan and Anthony Vanden Borre – basically, three midfielders and a full-back, who was forced to deputise at centre-back in the second half.
It all leaves Grant fighting yet another battle to keep Pompey’s season alive. Ruined by finances, sale of players and owner-farce, this campaign has gone from one commotion to the next. But with the saving grace of a Wembley semi-final, all was not lost, despite the multitudes of setbacks. However, even that looks set to be ruined if the injury crisis doesn’t ease before Sunday week. Grant will already know his side are major underdogs for the tie – Saturday only further proved that as Spurs strolled past his side – so a full strength Pompey is a must if they are to stand any chance at all.
But one man who certainly will not be stepping out to face his former boss will be the Herminator. Harry Redknapp, who brought Hreidarsson to Fratton Park almost three year ago, described the Icelander as: “one of the best lads and professionals I’ve ever come across” and few could argue with those sentiments.