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01/02: Preview: Portsmouth
Opposition opinion
by Phil of Pompeyweb

What happened last season?
After just one game we were propping up the rest of the table. Things got steadily worse from there on in. Not really, but at times it seemed like it. We started the season under the managership of Tony Pulis. He made some really strange team selections, which included the committed but inept Dave Waterman in every position except his favoured midfield, and some glaring ommissions, namely Scott Hiley, who went on to win player of the season.

We seemed to be bumbling along in lower mid-table when seemingly out of the blue Pulis was given a "sabbatical" in mid October. That paved the way for everybody's favourite SkyTV pundit and "Portsmouth-Til-He-Dies" Steve Claridge to take over as caretaker-manager. Things began to look up as Pompey won 3 games on the trot, culminating with a remarkable come-back from 2-0 down away to Crystal Palace to win 3-2. Then the draws started which really should have been wins and the slide back down the table began began again.

The REALLY low point of the season was the totally inept display against Nottm Forest at Fratton Park. The 'leccy board very nearly pulled the plug after not giving a safety certificate for unpaid bills. The Pompey players very nearly went on strike that day over a little "mix up" about the players' lounge being double booked. It really was a black day in many dark days.

In february Claridge was "relieved" of his duties as caretaker-manager when Graham Rix was installed as our new manager. Claridge went off in a huff and bleated to all and sundry about how he had been stabbed in the back by not being the job permanently. Personally I was relieved to see him go because his tactics seemed to consist of "give the ball to me" and once the opposition sussed this it all downhill.

With Pompey's seemingly inevitable last day escape with a 3-0 win over an obliging Barnsley side done and dusted Rix proclaimed "This will never happen again". Which leads us to question 2).

What's going to happen next season?
One thing is almost certain about this season; it will be different from the last one and hopefully different in a better way from the last four or five years. At the time of writing we have made a few signings, most notably the Rodney Trotter look-a-like Peter Crouch from QPR. There are rumblings about signing Mark Burchill from Celtic but I'm not holding my breath on that one.

Rix has used his Chelsea connections to raid their youth squad with signing of youngsters Courtney Pitt and Neil Barrett. We also have a "Director of Football", the one and only Mr Harry Redknapp, father-in-law of the delightful Louise Redknapp and formerly of West Ham United. Just what a DoF does remains to be seen but a Rix/Redknapp combination msut produce a better finish that we've currently been used to.

All-in-all things is looking up for poor old Pompey

Can you recommend a pub for away fans?
The Brewers Arms and The Pickwick are both away fan friendly and are both in Milton Road, about five minutes from the ground (fifteen minutes if pissed). The Brewers Arms would probably be your best bet if it's a decent pint you're after. The Pickwick is probably better for food and those of you with young families. There is also the Good Companion which has been refurbished in the last year. This one is a big building in Velder Avenue. If you come in along the Eastern Road you won't be able to miss it, it's a big ugly looking building on the left.

What's the nearest railway station?
Fratton is the nearest station to the ground and is about fifteen minutes walk from the ground, past a few burger vans and programme sellers.

Where is the best place to park?
If you get there early enough, ie two hours before kick-off, you should be able to park in the hospital car-park (pay and display). Otherwise it's on-street parking in Velder Avenue near the Good Companion pub or possibly Rodney Road next to the ground (mainly reserved for coaches though). Beware of coming down the Eastern Road (A2030). This road is notorious for its seemingly endless round of roadworks. At the bottom of the Eastern Road (within sight of Fratton Park) roadworks have commenced that are expected to continue until the new year.

Soundbites (from assorted Census correspondents)
"Shouldn't think so -  Typical Pompey fan lots of hope no expectation!" "

"Portsmouth ~ THE team of the South"