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BLIND, STUPID AND DESPERATE
 
02/03: Preview: Portsmouth
Opposition opinion
by Phil of Pompeyweb

What happened last season?
The season looked promising, as it always does before a ball is kicked in anger, what with the signing of Crouch, Burchill, Prosinecki and Kawaguchi. We had a manager who, on paper at least, looked like he might be able to achieve something.

Things started well; Crouch and Burchill began to get a good scoring partnership going and then Burchill got injured. Although the goals didn't exactly dry up they weren't coming as fast as they were. Add to that the fact that we were leaking goals at the other end and the usual slippery slope Pompey seem to always find themselves on was back again.

The low point came with the embarassing defeat by Leyton Orient in the FA Cup. Many people were blaming Kawaguchi (our Japanese 'keeper) for the errors but even replacing him with Dave Beasant didn't stop the rot. I don't think there was ever any real danger of us getting sucked into a relegation battle (again) but the constant underminig of Graham Rix's authority can't have helped matters. In the end he was sacked and Harry Redknapp took over. Peter Crouch, our top scorer, was sold to Villa for 5m. We ended up in 17th place, which is an improvement over the past three seasons.

What's going to happen next season?
I'm usually pessimistic about our chances but this season is different. We have a proven manager in Harry Reknapp, an excellent assistant in Jim Smith and, hopefully, a fully fit squad with Burchill and Rory Allen fit and raring to go. Harry has brought in some good players and released a load of those who were past their sell-by date or just not good enough. I think if you look at the starting 11 this season you will see very few of those who played last season.

I guess we're lucky to have a wealthy chairman who is willing to indulge his manager and fork out for players. One thing that is NOT going to happen this season though is us playing in a new ground, so it's the primitive conditions on the Milton End for visiting fans again this season.

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. Last year it was one end of the Eastern Road that had all the major roadworks, this year it's the other. Probably best to come in along the motorway (M275) and take the continental ferry exit. Turn left into Kingston Crescent (2nd exit) and then right at the traffic lights. Go down Kingston Road until you see St Marys church and teurn left at the lights there. Go along St Marys Road, over the bridge and then right at the roundabout and you should be able to see Fratton Park as you drive along there.

Soundbites (from assorted Census correspondents)
(re.worst eleven) "Too many duds to choose from, and none stand out due to a low quality in general."

"Worst?....God god, seen too many in action to list without breaking down"

"We're a good each way bet at 33-1 with Coral this season..."

"Pompey are 22/1 to go up at Coral - surely worth a flutter?" (Maybe so if the odds are tumbling that quickly)

"Pompey fans deserve a new stadium"