Given we have been tweeting and emailing (albeit not yet Google-plussing) supporters up and down the land for their thoughts ahead of this pre-season, it’s been a busy couple of weeks for The Two Unfortunates and our bumper joint pdf with The Seventy Two will be hot off the press on August 1. Coordinating such a venture has been no insignificant task and hence, it’s perhaps surprising that in only one case did we receive two contributions. Last year’s Portsmouth correspondent Rob Calver will be providing his thoughts on the south coasters for the preview proper, but as a taster, here are his fellow Pompeyite Kenn Bracey’s airings:
Headline of the Summer
Not one headline for us, but the many headlines concerning the proposed takeover and then the actual takeover of the club. This gets rid of Balram Chanrai, the man who never wanted the club, put the club into administration, bought the club back and then sold it for no doubt a tidy profit.
The new owners, CSI, headed by my good friend (well he added me on facebook) Vladimir Antonov, seem to have cash behind them and the company as a whole appears to be very active in the sports rights and media side of things. They seem to have given Steve Cotterill some money to splash if you see the signings we have made and the rumours of £2.5m transfers bids by us being rejected!
Any Major Worries?
Cotterill needs to strenghen the squad – he knows that, the owners know that and the fans know that. We have brought in quite a few defenders and looking at the current set up, we are light in the midfield and attacking areas. We only have 3 recognised attackers and one of those is the 62yr old Kanu! Nugent has gone to Leicester City and whilst he wasn’t a 20 goal a season man, he did give his all whenever he had the chance. Dave Kitson last season was very inconsistent in front of goal; however he was very consistent in chasing down the goalkeeper and doing a star jump in front of him, achieving nothing.
My major worry is that we keep Ashdown as our number one goalie. I know many Pompey fans will disagree with me here but here are my reasons. Ashdown is a very good shot stopper, no doubt about that, but he is dodgy at coming for crosses and then his distribution is quite frankly terrible. Maybe we have been spoilt the past few seasons with having David James in between the posts, but you would have thought Ashdown would have learnt from him. Maybe the young Irish lad we have brought in Stephen Henderson will get a chance and take full advantage, but I just can’t see us really pushing for promotion with Ashdown in goal.
On a rating from 1 to 10, how financially stable is your club?
New owners, only just getting their feet under the table. Are they here for the long haul? Who knows, but one thing is for certain, their money is in sport and not property, so hopefully it will prove to be more stable than the previous regimes of Gaydamak and the owners since him.
If I was pushed to put a number on it I would say we are about 7 or 8.
Opposition that you are most worried about?
A lot of people say it, and I agree, the Championship is an extremely competitive and difficult league to get out of. If you look at the teams who came down, surely West Ham will be up there at the end of the season. Birmingham will be strong as well. We’ll have to see about Blackpool as they are losing a lot of good players. Other teams that will be strong will be Forest, Leicester, Leeds, Cardiff and Reading.
The big games for us that we must win have to be the derby matches against them up the road as well as Brighton and Reading. Can’t have them having bragging rights over us. The problem with all 3 of those teams is that they are all coming into this season with confidence. Reading pushed hard for promotion to the Prem, Brighton stormed League 1 and Southampton got automatic promotion.
Where will you finish this season?
If I were a betting man, and I am, I would say a realistic achievable position for us this season would be a top 10 finish with maybe a possibility of a play off spot. I think it’s too soon for us to even think about challenging for the top 2 positions as there are better teams and squads in this division than us. Stick me down for 7th, missing out on a play off spot to Reading because they beat us at the Madejski.