I Look At Portsmouth FC And Think...
Vital Manchester City newbie, Bundo sent us the following.
The FA Cup has thrown up some surprises over the years, however this year could possibly be one of the biggest in a long time as Portsmouth have had a wonderful run in, especially considering their financial predicament.
Since Manchester City's take over in 2008, Pompey's owners have not been quite as generous. They were looking at European football, with the likes of Krancjar, Crouch, Johnson, Distin, Defoe and of course Harry Redknapp leading the way, but then like a small child chewing his first 'Hubba Bubba'...the bubble burst. They just simply ran out of money (well, not as simple as that, but I am a reporter, not the Chancellor of the Exchequer) and this leads nicely to Harry Redknapp.
After working wonders by getting Pompey promoted to the Premier League in his second year in the job, and then keeping them up at 13th place, he was known as a hero there. Although he lost his said status when he left for Southampton in November 2004, 'Arry was back by December 2005 to keep Pompey up at 17th place and gain back his hero status. Harry's love affair with Pompey simply worked and it continued as the next two seasons Pompey took 9th and 8th place, plus an FA Cup.
But then it had to end as Pompey was forced to 'sell' their manager to Spurs for £5million, as it became apparent money was extremely low. He wasn't the only casualty too; Defoe, Crouch, Diarra, Glen Johnson, Kaboul, and Begovic all went as Pompey slipped down the table under Tony Adams and Paul Hart.
And I bring you to today under Avram Grant, where every week they are struggling to field a team, they've had days where their players have failed to be paid by the strap cashed owners, and after a points deduction they are now rock bottom, down and out.
After being 1-0 down with minutes to go against Coventry, Portsmouth got a slice of luck as they scored a wonderful own goal (an out of this world finish I may add) to get them to extra time. Into extra time they went and it looked like it would go to penalties, when on the last minute again - they scored - and won the game. This was then followed by another 2-1 win, against Sunderland as they proceeded further in the cup.
The cup run continued and then a very special fixture came up - Southampton. It looked close at 1-1 nearer to the end of the game however, somehow, some way, Pompey lived up to the title of '09/10 FA Cup surprise act' as they won 4-1 and got the bragging rights until their next derby (which could be nearer than we think).
The belief was there - could they go all the way? After getting past Birmingham 2-0 - into the semi's they went with their own fans urging them on...and others including yours truly.
The neutrals chose Portsmouth this year as their team, and Pompey did not let them down as their cup games were completely different to their league ones - they were winning. The likes of O'Hara, Boeteng and the manager, Avram Grant, added to the neutrals love for them in the cup as all three are very likable (even if Boeteng is a cocky so-and-so - his football is very likable) however, maybe the neutrals wanted them to win because of a frightening statistic.
Apart from Pompey themselves in 2008, the top four have dominated the FA Cup with Everton the last to win it out of the four in 94/95 (and then Spurs in 90/91) and to watch the top 4 being piped to the post by the likes of Pompey...would just be wonderful.
The semis beckoned them and the hat threw out Spurs and Harry Redknapp. With Wembley as the setting it kicked off, with Crouch, Defoe and Krancjar all playing their old team (O'Hara however couldn't play his parent team) and although Pompey had been officially relegated days earlier they were up for it and took the game into extra time.
Somehow in extra time and after Spurs dominated the rest of the game, on the 99th and the 117th minutes Pompey scored two, through Piqionne and Prince Boeteng. 'Prince Boeteng had completed the fairy-tale' the commentator kept repeating (I think he was proud of that pun) and he was right - they were through to the final. Both sides of the league sandwich were to meet in the FA Cup Final this year, and Avram Grant was to play his old team - Chelsea.
This is wonderful for Portsmouth and will get them a good few nicker for reaching the final, however controversy has also been thrown into the mixer; the team that wins the FA Cup every year gets a spot in the Europa League the following season and because Chelsea are already getting European football next season, Portsmouth should automatically get the spot. However, UEFA have said Portsmouth will not be allowed to enter the competition due to their financial problems.
So, on May 15th 2010 the top and bottom team of the Barclay Premier League will meet at Wembley for the FA Cup Final and who is to say that there won't be some more giant killing?
Good luck and 'Play Up Pompey'
Bundo, over and out.