Portsmouth – Can the south coast club rise again after falling so far?

Last year, Portsmouth’s first match of the 2013/14 campaign was at home to Oxford in League Two. Just five seasons previous, they recorded a 2-2 draw at home to AC Milan; Ronaldinho and current Milan manager Inzaghi were on the score sheet.

After a culmination of departures and financial problems they found themselves at the bottom of the professional pyramid. Their match against Oxford resulted in a 4-1 humiliation at Fratton Park. That result was the start of a particularly draining and difficult period for the Pompey faithful, as they had to deal with not only with their team’s indifferent performances on the pitch, but also the strain and constant financial pressure off it.

 

They finished the season in a disappointing 13th place, with many of the bookies making them pre-season favourites to breeze the division comfortably. They lost more games than they won, coming second best 15 times out of the 46 games they played in, compared to the 14 they were victorious. Despite exiting administration, the club supporters who brought out the club, had to pay back large amounts of debt to various businessmen for which they owed money to.

Along with this, their constant changing of managers meant they could not have full stability of the club, and the revolving door at the offices meant that there was still a measure of uncertainty. Because of the debt the supporters found themselves in, they could only purchase players on free transfers or on loan. Ryan Taylor, Simon Ferry and Wes Fogden were just some of the big names that decided to drop down a league to play for them.

What could have been a disaster that season, only resulted in relief, that one, they were safe, and two, they had exited administration for the first time in over two years. Their last home match was against Plymouth, where they drew 3-3 and drew in an attendance of over 18,000, a sign that belief and confidence was restored again.

Into the summer and whilst the headlines were busy reporting on England at the World Cup, the Pompey hierarchy were making phone-calls, dealing with transfers, players and agents. They managed to secure the signings of Danny Hollands and Paul Robinson, of who both will provide vital experience, as well as James Dunne and Goalkeeper Peter Brezovan.

Again, all of these were attracted and encouraged at the prospect of featuring for Portsmouth. 14 players were released, as the supporter’s plans for the future were taking place. Andy Awford, who was sacked as manager last season, was re-instated once again, and was a major force in the involvement of transfer activity.

Nicky Shorey, who is considered an important figure amongst fans, brought positive news as he signed a new one year contract extension in May of 2014. Another feature that has become synonymous with Portsmouth in recent times in the graduation and development of their youth academy. Youngsters such as Danny East and Jack Whatmore, and Jed Wallace have all made the step up to the first team.

The latter, Wallace, is considered to be a fine prospect for the future, and despite being only 20, has already featured 86 times scoring 18 goals. However, what Chairman Ian McInnes will struggle to wrestle with is when one of the big clubs from the Premier league become involved.

Despite him signing a new contract recently, if a considerable fee arrives from the likes of Stoke, (who are rumoured to be interested in him) McInnes will may be tempted to accept, and a cash injection of a large amount may be needed to help further strengthen the clubs stability. For now though, these players are an example to any team, that you do not need to make big money signings all the time.

 

Going into the start of the new 2014/15 campaign, there was much more optimism around the city, and a feeling that perhaps this time they might just be heading in the right direction. Rather than a humbling defeat, they came away with a satisfactory point against promotion hopefuls Exeter.

This was followed by an encouraging 1-0 home win over Peterborough in the Capital One Cup, with fans’ favourite Nicky Shorey netting a rare goal. Next was back to back wins against Northampton and Cambridge, and after this they faced an old Premier League nemesis in Stoke City. The home side showed far superiority and showed just how far Portsmouth had fallen, by brushing them aside 3-0, a vast contrast to their last meeting in the Premier League where Pompey edged out a 2-1 win.

Recently relegated Yeovil Town felt the force of Pompey’s confidence and resurgence in the new season, by being defeated 3-1 in what was not an unexpected result, considering And Awford’s side beat Peterborough. Despite their most recent result ending in a point for each side in 1-1 stalemate, they go into the international break, with the top three firmly in their sights, and are only two points off the top seven.

However, the most positive outcome for Portsmouth is that of the recent news of them being debt-free. A club statement on their website read: “we can now look forwards not backwards, while still recognising that the rebuilding process will continue to be a difficult task in the years ahead”. This could yet be the most precious piece of history connected with everybody, even more precious than winning the FA Cup, and facing AC Milan.

The huge weight on the supporters, players, secretaries, kitchen staff and all the people who have stayed with the club through thick and thin, had finally been lifted. This was echoed by Portsmouth Chief Executive, whilst also saying it was another big moment for the club:

Obviously it’s another milestone in the club’s evolution and a great day and the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people over the past 18 months since we came out administration.

Finally, the three-year heartache has ended, now this news could be the start of a truly new ‘evolution’.

The Author

Joe Baker

I am an avid Leeds supporter and write collums for Tribal Football and Unofficial Leeds. I also write for sport.co.uk and vivafootballcalcio. I am a match report for Cirencester Town for the Non-league Paper and the Gloucestershire Echo. I am going to Gloucester University to study sports Journalism in September of this year.

3 thoughts on “Portsmouth – Can the south coast club rise again after falling so far?

  1. You may want to check your facts next time – Danny East not a youth product, Miles Storey scored vs Peterboro etc

  2. Talk about checking the facts. Awford wasn’t sacked as manager. He was caretaker between whitts and barker. Only when barker was he reinstated as caretaker and then received the job full time. Good article other than a couple of wrong facts.

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