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Pompey: On Everyone’s Mind


Transiting through London Heathrow this morning, on a journey from Florida to India, all the talk among football supporters (who I sought out in the airports and on the plane because they stand out in their club kits or England shirts) was not about any title contender but about Portsmouth.

Pompey after all was a club that was permanently buried in the lower divisions until Milan Mandaric bought the club and worked hard to achieve promotion. Mandaric is a football man many of us from the United States have been very familiar with for a long period of time. He was a driving force behind Indoor Soccer for years and also owned the San Jose Earthquakes, one of the teams that George Best played for in the NASL. Mandaric was involved with the USSF and with youth soccer as well.

More importantly, he was probably the first American truly qualified to run a European football club. Regardless of what might be said about his somewhat controversial tenure at Leicester City, Mandaric did right by Pompey.

When Mandaric sold the team on, Pompey was not only a Premier League club, but they had some money behind them. This allowed the club to lure back Harry Redknapp to Fratton Park, and chase glory, winning the FA Cup and qualifying for Europe. Then came the crash, followed by the ill fated regime of Sulaiman Al Fahim, and now the massive takeover by Ali al Faraj.

The Portsmouth situation is a reminder of how fluid English football is in this day and age. While other clubs may compete for honors, no club is as interesting as the one top flight club on the south coast right now.

It’s ironic that a club that was irrelevant for so long outside the south coast has now not only been in the top flight for seven consecutive seasons (a remarkable achievement) but has run through so many owners and different financial issues. I for one want to applaud the Portsmouth fans for their dedication to their club and the fighting spirit which Paul Hart’s men have show this season.

Now, with yet another infusion of cash, perhaps Pompey could continue make us pay attention.

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  1. billmapguy

    October 7, 2009 at 11:26 am

    I appreciate this article. With the focus on the shambolic state of Portsmouth’s (mis)management, it’s importsant to remember that this is a club who play in a ground that is more appropriate for the Second Division circa 1980. 7 seasons in the top flight for a club of Portsmouth’s stature is an accomplishment. I see four points in the next three matches. Portsmouth held their own v. Villa and Everton, and I think they can get a result against Spurs (can’t wait to hear the crowd during that match). Paul Hart has done a credible job with such little resources.

    • The Gaffer

      October 7, 2009 at 11:52 am

      I agree Bill. Portsmouth is a club that I have a soft spot for, and I’m glad that Paul Hart is still in charge. There are rumors in the tabloids that the new owner wants to bring in a big name manager, but I feel Hart should stay in charge and that the club, as AtlantaPompey points out, needs to stabilize first.

      The Gaffer

  2. AtlantaPompey

    October 7, 2009 at 11:25 am

    I for one would like to see Pompey return to being just another Premier League club for a while. All this drama has my head spinning. Financial stability has returned. With it, hopefully, will come more points, a few players in January, a new training ground, and even a refurbished Fratton Park. With increased revenue, maybe then Pompey can push back up to the top half of the table and compete for honors.

    The new owners sound like sensible businessmen. They are not promising to go buy Ronaldo and Messi and Kaka and clone Pele and George Best. They are promising that the club will be fully funded and continue to operate.

    Now we can focus on the most important matter: winning football matches. First up: Harry brings his boys to Fratton Park. Should be a lot of fun!

  3. Jables

    October 7, 2009 at 9:16 am

    I’ll give them three points in their next three fixtures with a loss to the Spurs and Wigan and a win over Hull City.

  4. The Gaffer

    October 7, 2009 at 5:29 am

    After Portsmouth’s confidence building win against Wolves, Paul Hart’s side are positioned to build on that and begin winning more points to move them up the league ladder.

    The next three games for Pompey are vital — against Tottenham, Hull City and Wigan Athletic. Seven points anyone?

    The Gaffer

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