Portsmouth's unimaginable fall from grace - From FA Cup winners to Conference side
Portsmouth's unimaginable decline is astonishing - from FA Cup winners six years ago to currently contemplating Conference football.
Football, eh? Bloody hell!
May 18 2008, Portsmouth were crowned FA Cupchampions for the first time since 1939. Wembley was covered in the spotted flags waved by the Pompey support. Harry Redknapp saluted the blue crowd as captain Sol Campbell held the prestigious trophy aloft. Their triumph was not as comfortable as Jack Tinn's final victory in 1939, by four goals to Wolves's one, but it was still an excellent achievement.
One of football most recognisable supporters, John Anthony Portsmouth Football Club Westwood (Yes, that is his real name), drummed deafeningly loud as Nwankwo Kanu's poked finish, past Cardiff goalkeeper Peter Enckelman, secured the historic cup. Now, Westwood drums rather half-heartedly.
No one could have contemplated that Portsmouth would be on the verge of relegation from the Football League and into the Skrill Premier Conference six years ago. The quality at Harry Redknapp's disposal made it impossible. At Wembley, Kanu, Pedro Mendes, Niko Kranjcar, Sulley Muntari and Lassana Diarra all started before the defensive members of the squad in Glen Johnson, Sol Campbell, Sylvain Distin and David James. They were an established Premier League club. Fratton Park was home to many a upset. Life around the blue half of the South Coast could hardly be anymore divergent now.
Home games are now anguished affairs, a stark contrast to famous victories over the Premier Leagues' supposed "big boys". Westwood and co lament their side's almost impossible decline and chastening away experiences at the likes of Southport, mauled mercilessly at Haig Avenue. They wonder where the quality and success of recent years has disappeared to.
Pompey have previously hosted AC Milan in the UEFA Cup - now they are contemplating entertaining the likes of Gateshead and Braintree.
Last week, Richie Barker, after only 20 games in charge, was dismissed with the team flirting perilously with relegation into England's fifth division. His fate epitomizes the unimaginable demise of the famous seaside club, with Guy Whittingham, after only a year at the helm, suffering the same misfortune. Pompey currently lie five points adrift of the two relegation places, an improvement since Barker's hasty dismissal.
Pompey fans have hesitantly grown accustomed to misery. Two adminstrations in recent years and three successive relegations. Yet, Portsmouth manage to sell 10,000 season tickets, a record for any League Two club. The supporters have stuck by their team and honourably so, but they don't deserve to be subject to such frustrating woe.
The month of April, which includes a trip to face fellow strugglers Northampton, promises to decide Portsmouth's fate. It is make or break.
Barton is right - Rooney is not world-class
Joey Barton is one who seemingly extracts pleasure from dominating newspaper headlines. He is an out-spoken individual, not afraid to deliver his opinions with true honesty.
His comments regarding Wayne Rooney, through an interview conducted with the BBC, were blown out of proportion. The Queens Park Rangers midfielder took to Twitter to clarify his viewing of Rooney as a great player, but not world-class.
There is indisputably a prominent element of veracity behind his claims. Rooney's discipline fails to compare successfully with that of Ronaldo, whose unquenchable desire to better himself earned him the prestigious Ballon D'or accolade.
Barton made the certified point of Rooney's propensity to smoke harming his undoubted potential. The talent is there, the mentality and discipline is not.
Yet, Rooney is a great player and that must not be cast under the carpet.
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