Club Focus – Portsmouth – Utaka continues to frustrate

As Nathan Delfouneso’s late strike sealed Portsmouth’s 23rd defeat of their beleaguered Premier League season, few of the Fratton Park regulars would’ve felt that sickening feeling that usually comes following such a late sucker-punch. But priorities lay elsewhere, and the spirit and battling display the players showed was enough for those hardy supporters who showed up despite the nothingness the game represented. Avram Grant’s offerings following the defeat represented the feeling amongst the ranks on the south coast. He was clearly proud of his side’s decent display and more importantly,…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Kids are alright

Almost four years ago, Portsmouth took 5,000 followers to Lancashire as they bid to cap off an unlikely Great Escape by beating Wigan on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Fast forward from that day on April 29, 2006, to Wednesday’s corresponding game and the scenes couldn’t be more different. Backed by just over 100 devoted followers, Pompey battled to a dour goalless draw on a murky Wednesday evening. But while the differences are endless, one similarly from both games stood out – an undying spirit. Just like that run back in…

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Portsmouth hope to get place in Europa League

Portsmouth have not given up hope of their European dream and were handed a small boost when UEFA insisted that they had no problem with them competing in the competition. This still looks unlikely, as they missed the registration deadline and the south coast club must now convince the Barclays Premier League to allow them to claim the UEFA club license that they crave so much. Portsmouth would be eligible to compete in the Europa League by virtue of their inclusion in the FA Cup final, which will be against…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Mok and Roc rock Wembley

Portsmouth needed heroes at Wembley on Sunday and they were not in short supply. But the two most unlikeliest and superb heroes of the day were that of Ricardo Rocha and Aaron Mokoena – the two lion-hearted centre-backs that stood together as a brick wall against anything Tottenham Hotspur’s stunning array of attacking talent had to throw at them. The last ditch tackling, bodies-on-the-line approach was something to behold, as two men, now in the winding down stage of their career, gave the performances of a lifetime for their downtrodden…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Vanden Borre adds to Wembley casualties

In what will go down as one of the most uninspiring and pointless games in Premier League history, Pompey lost yet another player for Sunday’s Wembley showdown. This time through rank stupidity rather than sheer bad luck, but the result of Anthony Vanden Borre’s second half dismissal has the same end result – no place at Wembley. Whether he would have started or not is a different matter, he would certainly have made the squad, and he only limits Avram Grant’s options even further. Grant will now be counting the…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Grant thinking with his heart, not his head

As Portsmouth welcome Blackburn Rovers to Fratton Park on Saturday in the hope of staving of their inevitable relegation for another week, Blues boss Avram Grant has apparently committed his services to the Pompey cause, even with the side set to be plying their trade in the Championship. From John Terry’s missed penalty that would’ve secured Grant his very own place a the top of Europe’s elite, to attempting to lead a stricken and devastated club from the midst of the second tier of English football, the question has to…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Herminator to miss Judgement Day

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…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Redknapp reunion

Harry Redknapp and Portsmouth will both return to Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final two years on from their success together in 2008, but this time under very different circumstances. Since those fateful dates at Wembley, plenty has happened to both parties, largely in distinctly opposite directions. No-one needs informing of Pompey’s woes since their biggest high in over 50 years, while Redknapp, since landing the Spurs job, is on the verge of not only the most coveted of spots in the Champions League but his Tottenham side will be…

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Doomed Portsmouth turn to emergency transfer window

The Premier League’s decision to allow Portsmouth to sell players to fellow top flight teams, announced on Wednesday, has set a precedent that will open up a whole plethora of complaints for clubs that feel Portsmouth are being treated with a grace that other clubs suffering – or who have suffered – administration, were not blessed with. In a statement, the Premier League said: “Players may be sold to other Premier League clubs but may not play first-team football for the new club before the end of the season. Players…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – The blame game

It seems Portsmouth’s financial saga may just be coming to a head. Peter Storrie – who resigned from his role of chief executive after eight years last week – has lifted the lid on some of the goings-on behind the scenes at Fratton Park, with some staggering mutterings. From Sacha Gaydamak, to Sulaiman al-Fahim, to Ali al-Faraj – all were on the receiving end of Storrie’s blame game as the under-fire former chief executive, clearly still hurting following administrator Andrew Andronikou stating he “must bear a large part of the…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – The millionaire behind the secret millionaire

Avram Grant this week claimed “you can write many books” on what has happened at Portsmouth in the last 18 months, and after another full week of ‘goings-on’, there can be a further two chapters added to this relentless saga. Firstly, administration finally hit home following the inevitable nine-point deduction and now pending relegation. It leaves Grant’s side a hefty 17 points off safety – a gap that even in Pompey’s dumbfounding world is unlikely to see some kind of miracle turnaround. But as their relegation was all but confirmed…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – An Anfield abomination

After 25 minutes, Avram Grant would’ve been relatively happy with his side’s stifling of an under-pressure Liverpool side – before his side hit the self-destruct button. If we lived in a world of ifs and buts, it would be easy to point to Jamie Ashdown’s gift wrapped opener for the Reds and wonder what might have been had Pompey continued to frustrate their hosts and their edgy crowd. As it was, Ashdown – deputising for the injured David James – threw away Grant’s game-plan in an instant, handing the Reds…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Lacklustre display sign of things to come?

If last Saturday’s FA Cup victory over Birmingham was a day full of passion, will and pure emotion, the league repeat was at the complete other end of the spectrum. With Premier League survival now a miracle away, is Tuesday’s lacklustre and tired display a sign of things to come for the remainder of the league campaign? Realistically, Pompey’s season now resides on one – possibly two – games at Wembley. Everything in between is a procession, and while players and management will make all the right noises in their…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Oscar winning performance

It may have been Oscar night on Sunday, but the award-winning films such as Avatar and Hurt Locker could get nowhere near the dumbfounding spectacle that surrounds Fratton Park right now. Initially at home in the drama section, Pompey’s plight turned fairytale on Saturday as they sealed a return to Wembley, and the possibility of a semi-final tie against ex-boss Harry Redknapp. It is a script that would have been chucked out of Hollywood barely after the pitch had even begun, but the prospect of a fairytale ending to this…

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Andrew Tuft’s Monday Column – FA Cup dream keeps Pompey’s fire burning

When Frederic Piquionne scored his second goal in three minutes against Birmingham City on Saturday, the explosion of joy from the massed ranks of Fratton Park must have warmed even the most cold-hearted football fan. For whatever the rights and wrongs of Portsmouth’s financial situation, the passionate support of their fans can never be bought and passed around in the undignified manner in which their beloved club has been. This weekend’s success over Birmingham gives not only the fans but also the players a light at the end of the…

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Playing the Favourite

Laughing all the way to the bank is not quite appropriate given the sad mess in which Portsmouth fans find their club – and surely it is not such a bet that would be taken within the confines of that historic city – but non-Pompey fans would at the very least have a spring in their step. That special campaign began innocuously enough, as Pompey traveled to Championship strugglers Ipswich Town in the third round. Kind draws followed, with Plymouth Argyle visiting Fratton Park before a journey to Deepdale. Both…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Administration: Pompey to face heavy storm before they see the light

So it’s official. Portsmouth Football Club will indeed enter administration – imminently. After almost 18 months of laughable owners and countless stories regarding the club’s financial state, at least the fans know where they, and their beloved club, stand. In fact, administration has come as something of a relief to the city, although it is not the clean slate many fans believe it is. It can be a long, arduous process which brings grave detriments to all involved with the club. For a start, administrators will spend the next few…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Premier League dream now over

The fact Portsmouth finished Saturday’s game with five strikers on the pitch only strengthened the point that this was indeed a must-win game. Avram Grant knew it, the players knew it and the supporters knew it. So as Salif Diao rifled in Stoke’s dramatic late winner, everyone inside Fratton Park knew that was that – the final nail in the coffin. The sorrow and devastation reeked around the stadium after Pompey’s latest loss, with all inside safe in the knowledge that their seven-year Premier League stay was almost certainly over.…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Derby-day joy lifts the gloom, for now

If by some miracle Portsmouth manage to survive their financial woes and somehow hit some momentous form from now until the end, Saturday’s derby demolition will be seen as a definite turning point. Instead, it looks as if it’ll be a great day for the fans to look back on in a season of utter turmoil. It was a day for heroes, and Pompey fans certainly found a new one. Quincy Owusu-Abeyie’s arrival last month hardly made a splash on the south coast but his stunning second half display at…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Derby build up takes a back seat

Wednesday’s high court hearing may not have shed any more light on Portsmouth’s eventual conclusion, but the fact they were there at all – along with two other professional clubs – only proves the ugliness in which our beautiful game is run. Pompey’s 112 year existence is now in genuine doubt, and for what? An FA Cup. The extent in which the club overstretched becomes more and more obscene and baffling by the day. Quite how a Premier League club, who welcomes tens of thousands of match-goers a week while…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Season defining month

It was written off before the game and it should be written off now. The league’s bottom club were over 20/1 to beat the champions on their own turf, so it was no surprise to see Pompey soundly beaten in Manchester. The 5-0 trouncing will do nothing to help the ever-dwindling confidence amongst the ranks, but put in perspective, returning home from Old Trafford empty handed doesn’t affect the Blues survival ambitions one bit. Avram Grant even rested a few of his exhausted stars with tonight’s vital clash with Sunderland…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – The Anna Kournikova of football

In Texas Hold’em Poker, the hand Ace/King is referred to as the Anna Kournikova – looks great, but rarely wins. It’s also a fair way to describe Avram Grant’s current Pompey side, who yet again played neat, and at times dominant football, only to come away with nothing for the umpteenth time this season at Fulham on Wednesday night. For all the hard work, tidy possession and stubborn defending, the embarrassing lack of potency in the final third was the Blues’ blatant downfall. With Fulham boss Roy Hodgson without seven…

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How much of an effect does the Africa Cup of Nations really have?

The African Cup of Nations has been a topic of much discussion throughout the season, more in relation to how certain sides would cope without the loss of certain players than in actual excitement for a tournament often full with incident – this years’ being no different. A more frequent tournament than its UEFA equivalent, happening every two years with every other tournament falling in a World Cup year, taking place mid-season the African Cup of Nations is seen by many simply as a burden. Some managers such as Sir…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Begovic and Kaboul gone, but no white flag just yet

As 5pm passed on February 1, 2010, every Pompey fan drew a rather large sigh of relief. That was until around 17.30 when it was confirmed that Stoke had sealed a £3.25m deal for hot-shot keeper Asmir Begovic. Begovic has won many admirers during his two-month stint as Pompey’s No.1 keeper and the news of this latest sale in the long line of asset stripping, strikes as a cruel blow for all involved. The Canadian-born keeper has played a vital role in many of the Blues recent results – none…

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Club Focus – Portsmouth – Poor showing against West Ham highlights midfield weakness

Portsmouth were back in Premier League action on Tuesday after an enforced 27-day break, but the Blues could only manage a draw at home to relegation rivals West Ham, on a disappointing night at Fratton Park. Indeed Avram Grant’s men were lucky to escape with a point after an error-strewn display which allowed the visitors to dominate. Grant ditched his favoured 4-5-1-cum-4-3-3 system for the midfield diamond as he sought to incorporate a front two following encouraging displays from forgotten man John Utaka. However, the midfield quartet was outplayed, out-passed…

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