Season Review 08/09: Pre-Season

Last updated : 18 June 2009 By Jim Bonner
Welcome to the most comprehensive Pompey Season Review on the internet. I apologise for the delay because of the recent takeover news but "better late than never" as they say.

Cast your minds back to the start of June 2008. Pompey fans were still on a high after the FA Cup triumph and were looking forward to Harry Redknapp building a squad that could challenge for honours again as well as have a good run in Pompey's first ever UEFA Cup campaign.

It didn't quite work out the way we wanted, did it? This is the story of perhaps the most dramatic season in the soap opera that is Portsmouth Football Club.

Pre-season began with Harry Redknapp adding to the squad by signing Glen Little on a free transfer from Reading and then pointlessly loaning Ben Sahar from Chelsea for six months.

However, he then broke Pompey's record transfer fee paid for a player as Peter Crouch returned to Fratton Park from Liverpool for a reported £11 million.

Harry's team then travelled to the South West for their first pre-season fixture.

16/07/08: Pre-Season Friendly #1: Exeter City 1 Portsmouth 1

Jermain Defoe gave Pompey the lead from the penalty spot after trialist O.J Koroma was brought down in the box. Pompey squandered chances after and paid the price when Edwards equalised with a free kick for the League Two side.

Pompey then travelled to Wiltshire for the next friendly encounter.

18/07/08: Pre-Season Friendly #2: Swindon Town 1 Portsmouth 3

The Robins took the lead through an early Simon Cox penalty but Pompey hit back as Hermann Hreidarsson and another Defoe penalty gave us the lead. Swindon piled on the pressure but Danijel Subotic made sure of the win at the death.

The friendlies came thick and fast with a trip to Dean Court the following Monday.

21/07/08: Pre-Season Friendly #3: Bournemouth 1 Portsmouth 4

The Cherries were in such a state that they had to field Lee Bradbury as Pompey tore them apart. Sulley Muntari opened the scoring for the blues before Peter Crouch scored his first and second goals for the club since 2002.

Jermain Defoe scored again against the club he was once loaned to but Kevin Bond's men would score a consolation through Bret Pittman. At the same time as this game, another Pompey XI were held to a 1-1 draw at Dorchester.

Pompey then travelled to Nigeria for a pre-season double-header.

26/07/08: Pre-Season Friendly #4: Kano Pillars 0 Portsmouth 5

Pompey went to town on the Nigerian Champions in Abuja as fellow countryman John Utaka opened the scoring with Ben Sahar and Nigerian legend Kanu grabbing two goals before the break. Peter Crouch scored twice in the second half to complete the rout.

27/07/08: Pre-Season Friendly #5: Portsmouth 1 Manchester United 2

Pompey fell to their first pre-season defeat despite Carlos Tevez missing a re-taken penalty early on after Glen Johnson fouled Frazier Campbell. United did take the lead in the second half through Chris Eagles and Tevez would get his goal later on in the game with a solo effort. Jermain Defoe pulled one back in the 89th minute but it was too late to salvage anything.

The first signs of Sacha Gaydamak's debt arrived as Sulley Muntari was sold to Inter Milan for £12.7 million to "balance the books". The rest of the squad went to South Africa for the next pre-season game.

30/07/08: Pre-Season Friendly #6: Cape Town Ajax 1 Portsmouth 2

Jermain Defoe lobbed the Ajax 'keeper early in the game before Pedro Mendes scored his last stunning goal in a Pompey shirt. Dipsy Selolwane got one back for the home side but Pompey would return to England with the victory.

Harry Redknapp was linked with a move to CSKA Moscow which was immediately quashed as a spokesman said "any approach by any other club would be unwelcome." Pompey then travelled to the Kassam Stadium.

04/08/08: Pre-Season Friendly #7: Oxford United 1 Portsmouth 2

The travelling Pompey fans witnessed a miracle as Papa Bouba Diop found the net by scoring from a Djimi Traore cross. Jermain Defoe continued his impressive pre-season form with another goal before the break but the team could keep a clean sheet as Alex Fisher scored in the dying embers of the game.

The following day saw a different Portsmouth side travel to Westleigh Park and Kanu also signed a new deal with the club.

05/08/08: Pre-Season Friendly #8: Havant & Waterlooville 0 Portsmouth 4

Ben Sahar scored two goals in the first half of this match and after an uneventful second half Arnold Mvuemba and Glen Johnson scored late on to complete the easy victory.

That was the end of the regular friendlies as the FA Cup holders travelled to Wembley to face the Premier League champions in the most prestigious pre-season game in the world.

10/08/08: Community Shield: Portsmouth 0 Manchester United 0 (United win 3-1 on penalties)

The champions of England and Europe dominated the whole game with Darren Fletcher and Carlos Tevez guilty of two glaring misses. David James kept Pompey in the game as it ended goalless after 90 minutes and straight to the shootout.

Tevez, Giggs and Carrick all scored their spot kicks whilst Defoe was the only one to find the net for Pompey after Diarra, Mvuemba and Johnson all missed and handed the pre-season silverware to United.

After that disappointment Harry Redknapp made another significant signing by finally getting Younes Kaboul from Tottenham for around £5 million. Pompey's youth also showed promise as Matt Ritchie banged in a hat-trick against Gosport as a young side ran out 4-1 winners.

Just before the season began Redknapp brought in Jerome Thomas on loan from Charlton but Pompey fans said a sad farewell to cult hero Pedro Mendes who was sold to Rangers for £3 million and made a huge impact as they went on to win the SPL.