Last Season: 14th.
Say hello to your new teammates: Frederic Piquionne, Steve Finnan, Aaron Mokoena, Antti Niemi.
Close the door on your way out: Glen Johnson, Peter Crouch, Djimi Traore, Sean Davis, Sol Campbell, Lauren, Noe Pamarot, Glen Little, Jerome Thomas.
Predicted star: Hard to pick one when there are hardly any left. A lot will depend on Niko Kranjcar who is the best player still at Fratton Park. He has already announced he will leave next summer but he’ll hopefully give Pompey fans one last season of creative play.
Needs a big year: David James will be very busy this season as a disintegrated Pompey side will no doubt struggle all season long. He showed signs of ageing last season and bear in mind he is 39 years old after all. If he has a good season however, he’ll go to the World Cup. The result of this is if he has a good season, he might just ensure Portsmouth don’t go down.
One to watch: Frederic Piquionne has been signed on loan from Lyon and scored twice on his pre-season debut against Rangers. He might be a good bet to score ten goals this season, which would go a long way to helping Portsmouth fight for survival.
What they want to happen: The takeover to go through, some players to come in rather than go out. Survival.
Nightmare scenario: The takeover doesn’t go through, Pompey go down, administration and the related consequences follow.
Plan A: Find sixteen players to play and form a bench. Try and use the duo of Belhadj and Kranjcar to create something down the left and use the pace and unknown quality of Piquionne to surprise a few people.
Plan B, just in case: Erm, rely on Kanu to produce a random bit of skill? He’s even older than James despite what his passport might say.
Predicted finish: 20th.
Why? I have nothing against Portsmouth and would sooner see many other clubs go down ahead of them but I just can’t see them staying up with the squad they currently have. Since last summer Peter Crouch, Jermaine Defoe, Sulley Muntari, Glen Johnson, Lassana Diarra and Pedro Mendes have all been sold, Sol Campbell released and Sylvain Distin likely to be on his way too before the window closes.
The reason for all this is that after spending big for several seasons and winning an FA Cup, the loans are now due and Pompey have no money with which to pay them with. No team could survive that level of talent leaving and they find themselves going into the new season with just 22 players, four of which are goalkeepers. The defence is old and slow and Steve Finnan will do nothing to improve it. There is some midfield quality in Diop and Hughes but neither of them are as good as Diarra. Kranjcar remains the player on whom they will completely rely on but he only played 21 league games last season having been seriously injured.
In terms of goals, Paul Hart will be relying on loanee Piquionne as you can’t rely on old man Kanu or Championship man Nugent. It’s an interesting signing but not one which will prevent the inevitable. As for Hart himself, you feel he’s only there as he’s cheap. It doesn’t really make sense that a man feted for his work with young players is at a club full of thirty somethings. The only hope for Portsmouth is that the takeover by al-Fahim goes through at some point before January, allowing for desperately needed reinforcements. Without this I think it will be an end to Pompey’s seven year stay in the Premier League.