The Premiership season begins on August 15th, just under four weeks away and for most clubs in the top flight, July has seen them scurrying about trying to strengthen their squads. At Fratton Park however, Portsmouth find themselves hampered by the current process of due diligence for Sulaiman Al Fahim’s proposed takeover to be completed. As such, no new players have come in and the board have allowed Glen Johnson to leave for £17 million.
The board have now accepted an offer of £12 million from Peter Crouch and it seems a simple matter of crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s. The only question is where Crouch will end up. Sunderland were in the driving seat but the player would like to remain in the south of England which would have put Fulham in the driving seat until Harry Redknapp threw his hat in ring. Having signed him twice before, Redknapp would now appear to be the favourite to see Crouch finally return the club where his professional career began.
Of course, this misses the bigger picture here, that of Portsmouth Football Club. The last few seasons have been eventful at Fratton Park, even by Pompey’s standards, but overall it has been a significant, if not a completely positive period in their history. Until Redknapp left for Tottenham, it had been a period of continual improvement and the F.A. Cup win was the icing on the cake for the whole project. The first team squad had the most quality it had seen in years sprinkled throughout it, with England internationals in every department.
That squad as of today looks threadbare even before Crouch’s departure. So far, 9 players have left the squad. Johnson, Davis, Djimi Traore, Lauren, Little, Thomas, Pamarot and the loan deals of Jermaine Pennant and Amand Traore have concluded. At the moment, the club have 15 professionals on their books. Kanu and Sol Campbell are currently considering new one year deals to extend their time at Pompey.
Now I know that takeover’s seem to take a matter of days when it comes to Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City’s buy outs, but they did take time, we just weren’t so aware of the facts that we are when it comes to the Portsmouth deal. Yet the clubs fans need it resolving as soon as possible. The playing squad needs strengthening as a matter of urgency because if not, it could be too late to get a squad together before the kick off in August.
The news that the shirt manufacturers, Canterbury, have also gone in to administration has meant that Peter Storrie has been having to work hard to secure an alternative. Yet, when you’re the third highest paid executive in the Premier League, it shouldn’t take too much to bring in a new shirt manufacturer, with Umbro leading the charge to take over the contract.
By all accounts, the deal should be concluded in a matter of days, but with no manager, no shirt manufacturer and now the smallest first team squad in the Premiership, Sulaiman Al Fahim is going to need to hit the ground running to get the club ship shape. A new manager is paramount as a first decision to get the transfer targets already positioned; I’ll be amazed if Al Fayed hasn’t got a manager already on board to takeover. For all the good work that Paul Hart did to rescue the disaster that was Tony Adams’ reign, he has made it clear he wants to return to the academy.
I just hope everything get’s sorted soon for Portsmouth and their fans. It’s a terrific club, with some of the most passionate fans I’ve ever come across. They don’t deserve to get caught in the blocks once the season kicks off, three relegation scares in 5 years will be pushing their luck.