Season Review 07/08: August

With the fixture list having generated a difficult start for Pompey, most fans were content with how August went as the club's best campaign for decades began.

After a long "will he, wont he?" saga, Kanu finally penned a new deal at the club after a successful first season.

Prior to the season opener at Pride Park Lomana LuaLua, who had worked so hard during pre-season, ended up signing for Olympiakos for £2.8 million.

11/08/07: Premier League Matchday #1: Derby County 2 Pompey 2

Having taken over 5 games to concede a goal the previous season, it took less than five minutes to leak one thanks to ex-Scummer Matt Oakley who slotted in. Benjani equalised after his trickery bamboozled Andy Griffin and his shot went straight under Steven Bywater.

After a tepid second half, Pompey took the lead after Hermann Hreidarsson knocked down a long ball into the box and John Utaka tapped in to score on his debut. However, the lead was short lived as poor defending allowed Andy Todd to head in an instant reply for the Rams and this moment would be the only time that Pompey let a lead slip for the entire season.

Gary Teale might have won it at the death but a draw was seen as a fair result. Given how the season panned out for both teams this wasn't such a great result but hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it?

The following day Andy O'Brien joined Bolton Wanderers as the team prepared for the visit of the champions for the first league game at Fratton Park with a roofed Milton End and some irritating electronic turnstiles!

15/08/07: Premier League Matchday #2: Pompey 1 Manchester United 1

It's fair to say that Manchester United dominate the first half and probably should have been more than a goal up after Paul Scholes' volley from the edge of the box flew into the net.

The 4-3-3 system wasn't working so Harry changed to a 4-4-2 and we looked much more like the team that had beaten United many times in the past. Matt Taylor made a huge difference and it counted when his cross was met by Benjani who rose out of nowhere to head in an equaliser.

We might have won it too if David Nugent hadn't slipped up at the crucial moment when he was clean through but the talking points were yet to come as Sulley Muntari was sent off after a second yellow card but then Cristiano Ronaldo also saw red for a "headbutt" on Richard Hughes late on as we held on for a deserved share of the spoils.

Steve McClaren saw that game and decided to call up Sol Campbell and David James to the England squad, making them Pompey's first players to play for the national side since Mark Hateley.

18/08/07: Premier League Matchday #3: Pompey 3 Bolton Wanderers 1

With a wafer thin squad at his disposal, Harry was forced to play an all-left-footed back four whilst David Nugent was surprisingly dropped for Kanu.

Nicolas Anelka did what he usually does against Pompey - score, as his shot went under David James to give Sammy Lee's side an early lead. Pompey hit straight back but Kanu's header from a corner was disallowed only for him to score a good goal not long after thanks to some poor marking.

Pompey took the lead after John Utaka raced away from the Trotters backline who couldn't catch him and then finished past Jaaskelainen at a drenched Fratton Park. Kanu then went down in the penalty area under Gerald Cid's challenge and Matthew Taylor scored a late penalty which was his last goal for the club and ironically against his future employers to chalk up Pompey's first win of the season.

David James played for England for the first time in a long time as he featured in the second half against Germany at Wembley. He would need to be at his best as the following game was at Stamford Bridge.

25/08/07: Premier League Matchday #4: Chelsea 1 Pompey 0

Pompey really took the game to Jose Mourinho's men and started off better only for Frank Lampard's long range effort to go under David James on the half hour.

Some excellent defending stopped Chelsea getting another and it looked like we might have got the equaliser we would have deserved if Gary O'Neil was slightly more accurate or if Ashley Cole hadn't cleared Hermann's header off the line.

We could walk away from the Bridge with our heads held high but wouldn't have much time to contemplate that defeat as our Carling Cup campaign began.

28/08/07: Carling Cup Round #2: Pompey 3 Leeds United 0

A meagre 8,502 fans witnessed this flattering Pompey win after a stubborn Leeds side had the better of much of the game and wouldn't go down without a fight.

It took a deflected Pedro Mendes effort off of Noe Pamarot to gift Pompey the lead before half time and it wasn't until the 80th minute when the game was made safe when Pamarot headed in his second from Gary O'Neil's cross. (Little did Gary know that this would be his last game for the club.)

The best moment was when David Nugent finally got off the mark and celebrated his first goal for Pompey with the crowd as we went through to the next round.

Much speculation did the rounds in the lead up to transfer deadline day but no deals were done until the final day of August.

Papa Bouba Diop joined from Fulham whilst former club captain Dejan Stefanovic went the other way. Glen Johnson arrived from Chelsea in a permanent deal as some fans moaned that he wasn't good enough to displace Lauren but then all Pompey supporters said a sad farewell to Gary O'Neil as he joined Middlesbrough.

That flurry of activity ended a frantic beginning to the 07/08 season but things would not get any easier in September as the difficult start continued.

Premier League Table on August 31st

5th: Everton - 7pts
6th: Arsenal - 7pts
7th: Portsmouth - 5pts
8th: Blackburn - 5pts
9th: Newcastle - 4pts