David Cameron Walker

Archive for the ‘Portsmouth’ Category

Captaining The Sinking Ship

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014


It’s been a tough few weeks for Pompey fans, with a defeat at Fleetwood on Saturday, prior to that, three 0-0’s put Richie Barker’s team in a good position to push for safety in League Two. However, with other teams around the Blues on a similar points’ tally, with more games to play, it’s become ‘squeaky bum time’ for Pompey’s remaining games this season.

After the 5-1 away thumping at Scunthorpe it became evident that something needed to change. With a 1-0 win against Accrington Stanley under the team’s belt, the team needed to push on for the trip to Chesterfield; doing exactly that. With Pompey putting in a solid performance in front of the Sky cameras to earn a point, Pompey fans finally had some optimism for the rest of the season, providing the team could continue to put in the same performance for the remaining games.

Unfortunately, two goalless draws and a loss later, Richie Barker’s team are once again looking into the mire that is the bottom half of the Fourth Division. Several teams around the Blues have games in hand, and are only separated by a few points, and as with any division in England, anyone can beat anyone.

This is where Barker has to prove his worth as Pompey’s manager, something he has struggled to do since his appointment midway through the season. I for one am not impressed with his performance at the helm. From what I have seen, there are constant digs at his predecessor, Guy Whittingham, about the ‘leaky defence’, which he claims to have plugged. However, conceding 3 goals on Saturday suggests otherwise.

With Pompey’s new rock, Ben Chorley, injured, the defence looks shaky. There is no cover for him, although he should not be relied upon to play every match, to win every ball, and to stay 100% fit all the time. This very much comes down to Barker’s recent press conference, saying the defence ‘frustrated’ him on Saturday. The same defence he praised less than a week before, saying it had be fixed. Many Pompey fans are beginning to question Barker’s tactics and approaches in the press, along with the team’s form under his leadership.

Barker currently has a 0.6 goal-to-game ratio, worse than Guy Whittingham’s, however there have been less goals conceded. That said, 0-0 and 1-1 draws will not be good enough for survival in League 2. If Pompey lose to York in their next game, there will be just a point between them and the relegation zone, with other teams around having a game in hand.

From what I’ve seen since Barker took over, the style of play has become very defensive, removing all attacking chances. Although this has stopped conceding goals on a regular basis, there is no Plan B once the opposition have scored; it becomes a case of ‘how many will they beat us by’. That isn’t the mentality Pompey fans should have, and all desire to attack seems to have been stripped from the squad by Barker. In my 18 years of watching football, I’ve always known that if you’re going to ‘park the bus’; you need to be able to counter attack – something that isn’t being done by Barker.

Since coming in as manager, he has brought in 8 new players, covering all areas of the field, however 3 players he has loaned out worry me, and may explain why we aren’t scoring goals. David Connolly, Ryan Bird and Ashley Harris are all attacking players, with different skills, all of which have put in solid performances for the first team this season – so why loan them out and bring in 3 new strikers? With decisions like this, it’s no wonder people are questioning Barker, and claiming he is barking mad. Something needs to change, and it may be too little too late, as come the end of the season Pompey could well be facing a trip to Havant & Waterlooville in the 2014/15 season.

Time really is against Richie Barker, and many Pompey fans have lost patience with the former Crawley manager. Performances must improve, and points need to be picked up from the remaining games. If not, then the already sinking ship will most certainly hit rock bottom; relegation from the Football League.

Onwards and upwards, in Pompey we Trust!

Written by Harry Davis, We Are Going Up’s Portsmouth blogger

Harry tweets at @MrDavishPFC

Richie’s Revolution

Monday, January 20th, 2014


It’s been a varied period at Fratton Park, with several changes being made both on and off the field. Firstly, I should update you all with the departure of Guy Whittingham who, after a string of poor displays, was let go by the Portsmouth hierarchy. After days of speculations and rumours, Richie Barker, formerly of Crawley Town, was appointed manager, alongside Steve Coppell, now Director of Football at Fratton Park.

It’s been a strange turn of events, but one that myself and many other Pompey fans felt was necessary. With Barker installed at the helm of the good ship Pompey, it was time for change on the pitch, something Barker expressed openly after defeat on his debut Pompey game.

Many players haven’t performed in a Pompey shirt this season, most notably last year’s ‘Player of the Season’ Johnny Ertl, who was immediately dropped from the team after being included in the starting XI of Barker’s first game in charge. This prompted the re-introduction of Simon Ferry in the midfield, taking the captaincy from Ertl, leading to a notably improved display in Barkers’ second game as boss. It became evident in December that the former Crawley Town manager needed to bolster the squad, but the question of everyone’s lips was who, and why would they come to Pompey?

With most free transfers being made in the summer, Barker and Coppell had their work cut out when it came to adding bodies to the blues squad that currently consisted of underperformers and youngsters. Although Barker is all for blooding the youngsters, especially at this level, it is ultimately down to him who has been deemed worthy to pull on a Portsmouth shirt and play in front of 15,000+ fans on a Saturday afternoon.

In my opinion, the culmination of Barker and Coppell has been working superbly, considering Coppell is on no wage whatsoever. Coppell’s contacts in the game have been invaluable, having already signed former Reading left back Nicky Shorey to the Pompey squad, alongside his former Bristol City teammate, striker Ryan Taylor, who scored Pompey’s 78th minute equaliser against Mansfield on Saturday. Adding to the striker force at Pompey has been the long-awaited signing of Jake Jervis, who has been waiting for international clearance to re-join Pompey from his previous Turkish club.

Jervis, an ex-Pompey loanee during the Appleton era, has been linked with a move to Fratton Park since August, but the move fell through due to international clearance being rejected. His previous spell with Pompey was cut short, after parent club Birmingham City recalled him due to an injury crisis. That following season, he took the leap to Turkey, which unfortunately didn’t work out. Having being released in the summer, Jervis was destined for the South Coast, however the move had to wait until Friday, when international clearance was finally granted, with Jervis beginning his debut in the 1-1 draw with Mansfield Town.

Barker set out to improve all areas of the squad, most importantly the defence, who have conceded the most goals this season. Recent signings of Nicky Shorey and Danny Alfei have strengthened the defence, and offered more options for Barker to rotate the team when injuries and suspensions arise.

The signing of Wes Fogden from Bournemouth has also proven crucial. The former Havant & Waterlooville wide man was signed by Bournemouth in the summer of 2012, but hasn’t played a game all season. Thanks to the generosity of Eddie Howe, and the urge to play first team football from Fogden, he has been permitted to leave the Cherries and join Portsmouth on a free transfer, signing an 18-month deal.

Lastly, the strikers this season have put in very irregular performances, without having an out-and-out goal scorer, adding to the plight of the blues. Barker seems to have plugged this gap, with the signings of Taylor and Jervis, conveniently at the time David Connolly has returned to full fitness, setting up Taylor for his first Pompey goal at the weekend having come off the bench.

With the backroom staff and playing squad being altered, performances have been picking up, most notably the Boxing Day win against Dagenham & Redbridge, with out of favour Romain Padovani getting his first goal for Pompey, having not played since August under Whittingham. His goal and reintroduction to the first team has sparked Pompey’s revival, having collected a point at league leaders Oxford United, who obliterated Pompey 4-1 on the opening day of the season.

I said a few months ago that the Christmas period would be what decides Pompey’s season; and I wasn’t wrong. Having the introduction of Richie Barker and Steve Coppell has certainly improved the Pompey squad and in turn, improved results. Now we wait until the end of the transfer window to see what other coups can be made, and whether or not Pompey can push for mid-table security.

Onwards and upwards, in Pompey we Trust!

Written by Harry Davis, We Are Going Up’s Portsmouth blogger

Harry tweets at @MrDavishPFC

Bird is the word?

Saturday, November 9th, 2013


Over the summer period, many Pompey fans expected to see a complete overhaul of the first team. Many were right; with Guy Whittingham keeping just six players from the team that played in the 2012/13 League One campaign (Smith, Moutakil, Butler, Ertl, Ageymang, and Connolly). Whittingham wiped away the cobwebs of Michael Appleton’s reign over the January transfer window, and was left with a squad of has-beens, and youngsters. This ultimately led to relegation, leaving Whittingham with a fresh pallet to play with in the summer. One of the tasks was to scour the country for strikers, with Connolly switching to a player/coach role, it was evident that one lone striker for an entire season was never going to be enough. This led to the signing of Ryan Bird from Southern Premier Division side Burnham, having scored 45 goals in as many games the previous season.

Many thought the jump from non-league to the fourth division would prove a difficult task for the hit man, who was ever-prolific in the conference league, having served Burnham for four seasons, scoring 133 goals in all competitions. Touted to be the next Guy Whittingham, and follow in the gaffers’ footsteps, he looked promising in pre-season, scoring twice in the local friendly game against Havant & Waterlooville, the first after just 10 minutes. Bird was an ever-present figure in pre-season, being selected for the starting 11 regularly, and making appearances from the bench; that was until his pre-booked holiday had come around. Taking two weeks out, without training or any game time, he returned in time for the last friendly before the season began, against La Liga side Rayo Vallecano.

When the season began in August, Bird took a regular place on the bench, being pushed out by David Connolly and Patrick Ageymang, the striking partnership that worked very well towards the end of last season. With the introduction of Tom Craddock to the first team, and the loan signing of John Marquis, Bird began to fade into the background, losing his place on the bench. Bird was then loaned to the team he scored his first goal in a Pompey shirt against, Havant & Waterlooville, where he made three appearances without scoring. Although he was playing alongside fellow Pompey loanee Ashley Harris, he never settled at Westleigh Park.

Having returned to Fratton Park, following the short return to Millwall from Marquis, Bird was given the opportunity to play in a Portsmouth shirt once more, and this time he didn’t disappoint! Scoring as a substitute in the 81st minute against Torquay, rescuing a point for the blues on the road, the Trashmen single, ‘Bird Is The Word’ was once again sung by Pompey fans. His ruthlessness was rewarded with a call up to the starting 11 against Exeter City. Yet again, Bird scored two magnificent headers, almost soaring through the box, living up to his name! With three goals in two games, Bird is certainly the word at Fratton Park.

Stevenage is the destination on Saturday, with the FA Cup beckoning once again, Guy Whittingham’s men will be looking to push on and play for a dream-tie against Premier League opposition in the third round. Following shortly after, the Quarter Finals of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy will test the depth of the squad, which is expected to be rotated at Newport County. It will be interesting to see how well the squad perform, with several games in such a short space of time, and hopefully the Bird will continue to fly.

Maybe, Bird really is the word?

In Pompey We Trust!

Written by Harry Davis, We Are Going Up’s Portsmouth blogger

Harry tweets at @MrDavishPFC

Life in League Two? Probably not what most Pompey fans expected…

Sunday, October 20th, 2013


With the new era beginning, the club under ownership of the fans, all that was left was an opening day victory to kick-start the promotion push back to League One. However, not all went to plan. With a good opening 30 minutes against Oxford, Pompey looked strong and up for the challenge League Two was going to throw their way. The team looked confident, the fans looks confident, and most of all, the city felt united once more. Something I haven’t seen since the FA Cup win in 2008. 60 minutes later, the final whistle blew; one of relief for many who filled the sold-out Fratton Park that day, as Pompey crashed to a 1-4 loss. Many people knew there was still work to be done, and it seems that work is beginning to pay off. Pompey currently sit comfortably in 15th place, with 16 points, one that most would be happy with, given the poor form at the early end of the season. With the (dare I say it) Christmas period fast approaching, there are many points to be played for.

Last Saturday’s trip to Plymouth Argyle was a positive one, and in my eyes, a point gained. Plymouth, a side that have played in this division for several seasons now, like Pompey, were looking for promotion from the bottom tier. With a strong squad, that have gelled over time, it’s surprising to see their form, of late, hasn’t been positive. That in mind, Argyle took an early lead due to Yassin Moutakil’s mistake, leaving Pompey to play on the back foot. With a swift reply, the team looked confident at 1-1, with several balls being played into the box, they begin to take control. The half time whistle seemed to come too soon, with the playing being fluent from Pompey; something that has been missing since the season began. The second half was very end-to-end, with the final result being the same at half time, a well earned draw.

Saturday’s performance against Bury was a poor one. With Bondz N’gala currently on the goal trail, it was no surprise ‘He Scores When He Wants’ was ringing around Fratton Park once more. He’s beginning to remind me of Linvoy Primus, back in the day, when he played along side Sol Campbell – a partnership that many Premier League strike forces feared playing against. Linvoy was able to get up in the air, win headers, and score the occasional goal. N’gala has almost replicated those sorts of performances of late, with 3 goals in as many games. As well as scoring goals, he has been putting in award-winning defensive displays, that earned him a place in EA Sports’ Fifa Ultimate Team ‘Team of the Week’, two weeks ago. He was one of Guy Whittingham’s impulse signings, after playing one game as a trialist against Havant & Waterloovile; the local pre-season friendly that is played annually.

Whittingham made a few impulse signings this season after the transfer window, one of which was Therry Racon. Racon played a part in Whittingham’s January overhaul last season, and never really impressed me. This season he has certainly proven me wrong! With stunning midfield displays, winning the ball, running into pace, and pin-point passing was something he would never have done in League One, but League Two seems to be the one he thrives in. So much so, that Romain Padovani, and even Simon Ferry, have been kept out of the team.

I think the strength in Pompey’s defence at the moment is one that would cope comfortably in League One. With Jed Wallace being touted by several Premier League teams, Ertl and Ferry’s combined experience in the Football League, along with the pace of Barcham, and set-piece quality of Ricky Holmes, Pompey certainly have no problem creating chances. A problem that I have found with the squad, especially in the early stages, was the lack of ability up front, and lack of confidence attacking the ball.

Whittingham definitely pulled it out of the bag, bringing in youngster John Marquis from Millwall, who despite his poor goal tally at his parent club, has already formed a strong partnership with Patrick Ageymang. Both strikers possess different qualities; Ageymang has the strength to battle off defenders, and a first touch that would make Lionel Messi jealous! Marquis has the ability to run 20 yards into the box to poach the ball, get a head on the end of a venomous cross, and even take a shot so powerful it could actually break down a barn door!

With the league performances aside, Pompey also have the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy to look forward to, with a trip to Newport County on the cards. A win in that game will see them just 3 games from Wembley, and within touching distance of a trophy for the first time in six seasons! Admittedly, it’s not a ‘major’ trophy, but it’s silverware nonetheless, and as usual, Pompey will pack out Wembley with blue flags once again! The cup is definitely in the minds of the players, however sustaining a decent league position until then is the most important thing to think about. I would love a trip to Wembley again, and to be able to keep a comfortable position this season. It’ll certainly make a difference from hearing about different ownership battles and back-to-back relegations!

We now look ahead to playing against Torquay in the league, the team’s second trip to the West Country in 3 weeks, and the second trip to Torquay in seven weeks, hoping to improve on their last performance, which ended in winning a penalty shootout, thanks to a Moutakil doing a cheeky ‘Pirlo chip’.

Onwards and upwards, in Pompey we trust!

Written by Harry Davis, We Are Going Up’s Portsmouth blogger

Harry tweets at @MrDavishPFC

Another busy summer for Pompey…

Friday, July 26th, 2013


As usual it’s quite a busy summer at Portsmouth,  but this time, it’s not because we have been trying to save it from the brink….

With the new Pompey era in full swing things at the club had to be fixed with lightning speed in order to be ready for the new season. Players, a new kit deal, and new sponsorships were all high on the agenda. The new kit deal was one that had to be thrashed out; Pompey chose Sondico for the new kits with great promises to the fans – “the cheapest kits in English football” and the question that they might build up to 20 youth development centres for Portsmouth results in a great deal. After the deal, the home shirt was released not long after, resulting in a fantastic new design for the new era, and since then the away shirt has been released too with only the third shirt left to be released. It seems a thousand years since the last time Pompey had shirts on sale during the summer and not coming out in late October. Additionally, they may not be at the club shop yet,as its not officially open, but they are also on sale in many high street sporting stores!

The players arriving was Guy Whittingham’s main task, and to do it before pre-season too. Every player who has arrived has arrived on a free transfer. These players are: John Sullivan, Danny East, Sonny Bradley, Joe Devera, Andy Barcham, Ricky Holmes, Romain Padovani, Ryan Bird, Tom Craddock and as of yesterday Simon Ferry. The club also managed to retain Phil Smith, Yassin Moutaouakil and the incredibly important signings that were Patrick Agyemang, David Connolly and Captain Fantastic, Johnny Ertl. Guy Whittingham also already had Dan Butler, Ashley Harris and Adam Webster contracted while Jed Wallace had his option for another year taken up so he will stay at Fratton Park. The starlet has admitted contract talks will start within the next couple of weeks. In short, the only question mark remains whether Ricardo Rocha will rejoin, but there are strong rumours that he will sign by the end of the week.

The coup’s of the season stand at Devera, Ferry and Padovani. Swindon fans who have been commentating on Ferry and Devera say it is clear they are better than this level who are not even here on an extravagant wage Pompey’s budget stands at around mid-table in League Two and CEO Mark Catlin made it clear a while back that Pompey won’t break the wage structure for anyone. Ferry seems to be easily good enough for a top half League One side according to Swindon fans, and the same with Devera, while Romain Padovani was a free who no-one really knew when he arrived from Monaco without even a Wikipedia page. Since then he has shown class in pre-season, showing despite his tall frame he has great touch and skill. It’s the first time in years and years that there’s a selection dilemma at Portsmouth with Whittingham having to decide who he puts in midfield out of Ferry, Barcham, Ertl, Wallace, Holmes and Padovani. Ryan Bird was another player who’s arrived who nobody knew much about, but after a few quick bits of research we realised he’s clearly got something about him, 45 goals last season for Burnham, albeit not a great level,  but if you’re scoring more goals than games at any level you’ve clearly got something. He has also impressed in pre-season when he’s started, although his pre-season was interrupted by his holiday….

With that squad it is sure that Pompey can challenge for promotion this year, with a lot of the players able to play at a higher level. Most bookies actually have Pompey installed as the favourite to win the league. While its clear that the squad is extremely talented it needs to be remembered that they have all just linked up. It’s predominantly a new team, so not finishing top wouldn’t be a disappointment, although we should be expecting the play-offs at least with this squad. There were also changes in playing staff, as last season’s number 2 Andy Awford decided not to take up the role permanently and go back to being the academy manager. This means Pompey needed a number 2 and Guy Whittingham didn’t have to look far, promoting Steve Allen to the role while he maintains his duties as head physio. Whittingham also recruited club legend and Ireland legend Alan McLoughlin, or ‘Macca’ as he’s well known, to the first team coach role after he has recovered from kidney cancer.

The club has also secured sponsorship deals again; Jobsite have continued as shirt sponsors while Convers have made an appearance as back of shirt sponsors. Pompey’s 12th man also recently held fans day at Fratton Park before the friendly with Charlton, all to raise money to do various things for the club. The signing of the season so far though, will be the fans, Pompey have sold over 10,000 season tickets for the upcoming season, which is simply incredible support. I am very proud to say I am among them. With the season ticket sales which will probably end up between 11,000 and 12,000 will mean over half of the ground is season ticket holders. On top of that the Fratton End, the loudest stand at Fratton Park has almost sold out entirely with season ticket holders, only around 100 seats remain in the stand where the noise of Pompey usually originates. Credit goes to every last person who works in the ticket office who has worked incredibly hard to sell as many as we have and the CEO Mark Catlin and Engagement manager Micah Hall. A magnificent credit to the club. Huge credit also goes to Guy Whittingham, Steve Allen and the rest who managed to assemble such a good squad in such little time.

We can now finally forget the heart ache of previous years, the frauds, the Sulaiman Al-Fahim and the Faraj era, Gaydamak, Joseph Cala and all the rest are now a distant memory. The fans won and for the first season in a long, long time, Pompey can enjoy football again. Play up Pompey!

Written by Lawrence Hall, We Are Going Up’s Portsmouth blogger

Lawrence tweets at @LawrencePFCHall

Pompey – The New Era Begins

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

On the 10th of April at 16:21 papers were signed as the Portsmouth Supporters Trust (PST) reached an out of court settlement with Portpin over the value of Fratton Park, giving the PST the go ahead to complete an incredible takeover.

Weridly, just five days after the takeover, it was 10 years since Svetoslav Todorov sent Pompey into the Premier League. Futhermore the following day, while Portsmouth were playing a charity midweek freindly against club legend Hermann Hreidasson’s side in IBV,  Pompey had their drop to League Two confirmed.

In between this was a game away at Brentford, with 1,700 Pompey fans making the trip to London for a party after the PST were given the go ahead to complete their takeover. A party which was then scarred by a pitch invasion by 100 or so Pompey fans, and the club’s supporters have have come under a fair amount of criticism for this. I was there and didn’t go on the pitch but you have to say there are two sides to the story. The Brentford statement blaming the Pompey fans didn’t mention the flare that their fans threw on the pitch or them having to move some fans due to getting too wound up either. At the end though, this is all irrelevant and pointless.

The new era begins for the biggest community club in the UK, and surprisingly some fans would think the optimism couldn’t be higher right now in the Pompey community. The club starts debt free, we finally have a loyal squad of players who fight for every ball and we own our club.

Next season no one knows what will happen ahead of next season. We could end up signing the entirety of the current squad onto long term contracts and return to League One at the first time of asking. We could sign up a few, still have to build a squad and not go up, but with the revenue of our club through tickets and merchandising once the trust sort out all of the things that they can, there should be plenty to spend on the squad.

Whatever happens now we have amazing passion in this city, the fans have saved the club and no matter what anyone who doesn’t favour the trust says, just ask this;  could it be run any worse than it already has been? The finances at the club are a business nightmare and now it can only be run better by people who love it.

The effort by the fans is almost unbelievable, so much money raised through pledges and no one can forget the people at the top of the Supporters Trust. Ian McInnes, Mick Williams and Ashley Brown, the non stop work and fighting from those three people who refused to let their football club die, we can give no more respect to people for doing what they know is right.

For the fans of other clubs, don’t pity us getting relegated, we’ve saved our club and we’ll be back before you know it. The future is bright.

We did it, we all did it.

Written by Lawrence Hall, We Are Going Up’s Portsmouth blogger

Lawrence tweets at @LawrencePFCHall

The future at Pompey, is it finally looking up?

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

On the 10th and 11th of April the future of Portsmouth Football Club will be decided. The administrators of Pompey (PKF) will go to court to decide the value of Fratton Park and if they lose, the club will be liquidated. If they win, Pompey will finally have a future where we aren’t looking at being pushed almost out of existence by dodgy owners.

On the pitch everything is finally looking up also. On Saturday Pompey beat Coventry City, a club with similar problems off the pitch. Coventry, who are still chasing the playoffs, would’ve been expected to win the game but thanks to Simon Eastwood’s penalty save and a great performance from the rest of the team, Pompey emerged 2-0 winners. The win means that in the last nine games Pompey have won more points than anyone else in the bottom five of the table. Pompey have taken 13, Hartlepool and Oldham 12, Scunthorpe nine and Bury six.

It’s a huge turn around from Portsmouth, a club that not so long ago went 23 games without a win. This can be attributed to the current side having more fight and determination than we’ve seen in years. A few youngsters have come into the side too, and it seems that Jed Wallace and Dan Butler aren’t escaping the eye of some Championship and Premier League clubs.

Wallace has scored four goals and claimed two assists in his short Pompey career, while putting in some very credible performances even when not chipping in with goals or assists. His impressive performances led him to being put on standby for England Under-19′s in the week.

Butler has very recently come into the side at left-back after the club released Jon Harley and has been good value for the decision to recall him back from his loan at Havant and Waterlooville. Many solid performances have strengthened his place in the side, although he was rested due to fatigue against Coventry. Also, no one can miss the warhorse that is Johnny Ertl, the man who gives 110% every game. Ertl is the best captain we’ve had all season and barring Sol Campbell, Linvoy Primus and Jason Pearce,  the best captain we’ve had in a long while. A midfield general and a character, it’s almost a pleasure to have him at Pompey.

The manager is also to thank for this revival. He took the club on a large amount of the 23 game winless run and now we’re back on the rise. Guy Whittingham, or Corporal Guy as he’s also known, is Pompey through and through and has fought for this club ever since he was asked to on an interim basis, which is commendable.

A top Guy is Guy, but the long run without a win cannot be ignored for next season. Whittingham has had the hardest job in football but unfortunately there’s nothing to say he’s a great manager. There’s also not much to say he’s a particularly bad one due to the situation at Fratton Park, so we’ll have to wait and see what the club’s hierarchy decide to do with him next season.

While Guy has been as loyal as he has, you have to remember that the most loyal servants to Portsmouth Football Club are the fans., We still travel up and down the country to follow the team despite their awful form, the administration and everything that has contributed to the disaster that has been Pompey of the last few years. From over 1,000 fans at Leyton Orient on a Tuesday night to the 11,000 that still arrive at Fratton Park and continue to make the atmosphere what it always has been – loud and enjoyable.

Pompey are still five points behind Oldham Athletic in 20th place, with Pompey having played 40 matches while Oldham have played just 37. With a possible ten point deduction possibly on the way it seems survival is impossible, but this is Portsmouth and, as we learnt in the great escape season of 2005-06, anything is possible when you’re Pompey.

The future at Portsmouth Football Club is starting to look up. With the Portsmouth Supporters Trust about to take over a new beginning is finally on the horizon. The team are finally winning and with young starlets beginning coming through, the fans can start talking about football again in the near future. With the club finally being run sensibly Pompey can look up instead of down, even if it is in League Two.

Written by Lawrence Hall, We Are Going Up’s Portsmouth blogger

Lawrence tweets at @LawrencePFCHall

Manage Portsmouth: Get A Promotion

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Of all the things you are told to put on your CV in order to get a job, from being an all-powerful prefect at school to joining the ever-crucial debating society at Uni, there is one thing you need on there in the football world to guarantee you an improved career path – Manager of Portsmouth Football Club.

Amid the turbulence that has seen Pompey tumble from the heights of lifting the FA Cup in 2008,through financial crisis to end up in the lower reaches of League One, one thing has been a constant, any manager who has failed to stop the rot has been rewarded with a very attractive job elsewhere.  Unfortunately for this trio of south coast failures, their lack of success followed them to the next port of call, but what was it about their time at Portsmouth that attracted chairmen around the country?

The story starts with Paul Hart in 2009 who, in fairness, kept Pompey in the Premier League when he took over as caretaker at the back end of the 08-09 season. Unfortunately he followed being offered a permanent contract with the worst start any team has ever made to any Premier League season, losing seven straight games.  Understandably he didn’t last long but his reputation was fully intact and despite this record breaking failure he was almost immediately ushered in at the newly mega-rich and highly ambitious Queens Park Rangers.  It didn’t go well, lasting less than a month. He then suffered similarly short spells at Crystal Palace and Swindon.

Hart’s successor at Fratton Park was the difficult to warm-to Avram Grant, who had the first ever points deduction in Premier League history to deal with, but given they finished eleven points adrift at the bottom of the table, even without the deduction it would have finished been last place for Pompey.  It was clearly an incredibly difficult situation for the Israeli, but ultimately he failed nonetheless and the club went down.  Grant though seemed to be held in higher regard at that point than he was when he took Chelsea to a Champions League final and second in the Premier League, and he was immediately offered the West Ham job in the top flight.  Like Hart, this next move was a disaster as he took the Hammers down in his only season at Upton Park.

Steve Cotterill was the man to take the reins at Portsmouth after Grant, again in tricky circumstances but with a decent Championship level team to work with.  The former Notts County manager had a half-decent season, stabilising the club to a degree and finishing a non-descript 16th.  Not going down was an achievement of sorts due to the madness that was going on around the club, but as mentioned there were some good players there, 16th was nothing special and Portsmouth fans were far from enamoured with the style of football he introduced.  It was enough for Nottingham Forest to come calling though after the resignation of Steve McClaren and duly Cotterill returned to Nottingham to take charge at the City Ground.  Again though his move away from Fratton Park was not fruitful, he lasted less than a year at Forest after finishing 19th.

Now we find Michael Appleton in charge at Pompey in League One after they were relegated from the Championship last season.  He has arguably had the most difficult job of all, having to deal with a ten point deduction, which if had not been in place would have seen Portsmouth survive, and then losing nearly his entire squad before the start of this season.  The side are now in the bottom half of League One, and although you would be a fool not to recognise just how difficult the job Appleton is doing is, a relegation and encampment in the bottom half of the league below is not really working miracles.  However, he is now being linked with a return to the Championship and is one of the favourites for the job at Burnley.

So what makes these men who have effectively done little to halt the demise of Portsmouth such attractive propositions for management posts?  Well it seems that it has been their attitude and demeanour during what has been a torrid time for the club that has kept their profiles up.  They have all been dignified, not moaned and complained about what is a shocking situation for a manager to find themselves in and just got on with it.  It seems that getting on with it is what appeals to chairmen and they don’t seem too fussed that it was done with no great success.

The comparison could be drawn with a man mentioned earlier, Steve McClaren who arrived at Nottingham Forest, spent a decent amount of money for Championship level, lost a few games and was off again in no time at all.  Although he got his old job back in Holland, there will have been few chairmen in England who would have been keen to offer McClaren a contract after he displayed that kind of spineless attitude.  It seems that like the tenacious full-back that has no real talent but works his socks off for the team and will always be a fans favourite for it can still be a role applicable to managers.

Appleton may be the one to buck the trend – he has a lot about him, is young and is building a good reputation in the game.  Let’s just hope he doesn’t become the latest in the line of much heralded but ultimately unsuccessful men to manage Portsmouth.

Written by Phil Haigh, We Are Going Up’s Barnsley blogger

Phil tweets at @philhaigh_

All Change at Fratton Park…Again

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Another new season, another new owner for Portsmouth FC. Pompey have been through a rough time through the past few years – with well-documented financial troubles, player sales, relegation, owner changes and manager alterations. In recent years it’s seemed to be never a dull day at Fratton Park. However, with new owners that look like they’re in for the long term and an ambitious young manager in Steve Cotterill, Pompey finally look on the up.

With Luke Varney arriving from Derby County, David Norris coming in from Ipswich Town, Greg Halford from Wolves and Jason Pearce from Bournemouth all signing for Portsmouth over the summer break, Cotterill is finally beginning to shape the squad to fit his vision, and to get them playing the sort of football that has seen his previous teams reap success in the past.

While the new signings are an encouraging start, more players are needed in critical positions, as the depth of the squad is a continuing issue. Full-back and striking positions are in desperate need of reinforcement, and a lot can be said about the loan market to fill the gaps, if only on a short term basis. Loans have proved to be critical to Portsmouth in the past, and while the Sheffield United chairman proclaimed the over reliance on loan players contributed to their demise last season, without the loans players that came to Fratton Park, we could have been seeing League One football this season.

Gael Kakuta and Patrick Van Aanholt of Chelsea both rumoured with links to Portsmouth this season. With only a month left of the transfer window remaining, time is certainly of the essence and Portsmouth chairman David Lampitt has even hinted there could be new faces at Portsmouth before Saturday’s season-opener at Middlesbrough.

Some will point to the departures of key players such as David Nugent and Michael Brown as reasons for Portsmouth to struggle this season, but there are some great young players knocking on the door of the first team. Many Portsmouth fans will certainly keep their eyes out for the pacey Australian winger Ryan Williams and England U-17 International Sam Magri to potentially grab some minutes this season – both impressed this summer in pre-season and the U-17 championships respectively.

Pre-season this year consisted of another trip to America, immediately bringing back painful memories of last years doomed trip which consisted of endless travelling, constant flights, injuries and poor games and facilities. A lot of people focus on the importance of pre-season, but for Portsmouth it was mainly about building fitness to ensure the club can hit the ground running away at Middlesbrough for the season opener. Charleston Battery provided the opposition over there, and surprised Portsmouth with their ability and fitness, with Greg Halford commenting on Twitter at his surprise of the abilities and facilities in the US.

Coupled with a traditional visit to West Leigh Park to play Havant & Waterlooville, and an embarrassingly cancelled game against La Liga side Real Betis, pre-season has been pretty kind to Portsmouth this year. Sure, there hasn’t been the glitz and glamour that other teams have had in pre-season, but Pompey have quietly gone about their business.

So, what are the odds? Sky Bet have Portsmouth at 33/1 to win the Championship outright, 9/1 for promotion, and 6/1 for relegation. What does that all mean? Mid-table, most likely. Sure, Pompey will push for a playoff place, but I think survival in the Championship coupled with two wins against Southampton will keep the majority of Portsmouth fans happy this year.

Play up Pompey!

Written by Chris Robinson, We Are Going Up’s Portsmouth Blogger

Chris tweets at @gingerboyo