Pathetic Pompey Dumped Out Of The Cup

Last updated : 25 January 2009 By Jim Bonner
Given how angry I was yesterday I thought I'd wait until today to air my thoughts on Pompey's FA Cup exit in hopes of producing something a little less critical, but I still feel exactly the same after the debacle that took place at Fratton Park.

Where to begin?

Tony Adams said in his programme notes that we shouldn't get too frustrated if Swansea come to Fratton Park and have lots of possession. It was almost like he was pleading for the fans to not be surprised if we were outplayed by Swansea.

But hold on a minute. We're the Premier League side and the FA Cup holders and they are coming to our ground as the inferior side. We should be the ones that dictate the game to them, not the other way round like it was yesterday.

The Pompey manager spent a long time to bring Jermaine Pennant to the club and then decided to play him in centre midfield, leaving David Nugent on the right and playing Crouch up front on his own in a 4-5-1 system.

That was an utterly ridiculous tactic that saw Swansea completely dominate the first half and saw Nathan Dyer, motivated by the abuse he was receiving from the home crowd, give the Swans a deserved lead after he left Campbell in his shadow and fired past James.

The only response we could muster throughout the entire first half was when Crouch fired straight at their keeper and things got much worse just before half time when Nadir Belhadj gave away a stupid penalty by taking out Jordi Gomez in the box. David James couldn't reproduce his penalty save of the last round and Jason Scotland doubled the visitors' lead.

Pompey trudged off at half time to boos from the Fratton Faithful after one of the worst first half performances I have ever seen from a Portsmouth team. Adams changed things by hauling off the ineffective Nugent and the woeful Armand Traore and replaced them with Kanu and Hermann Hreidarsson.

We looked a much better side and laid siege to the Swansea goal but then came the Dimi Konstantopoulos show as the opposition 'keeper just would not be beaten after producing save after save.

Even when he did make a mistake by misjudging the bounce of the ball when it was passed back to him, Kanu couldn't take full advantage and when Peter Crouch hit the woodwork with a header you just knew our grip on the FA Cup was loosening.

Despite charging forward you always felt Swansea would nick one on the break and they came very close on a couple of occasions. The final whistle blew and Pompey were booed off, having been beaten on their own patch in their own competition by a lower league side.

The bottom line is that we were completely outplayed by a decent Championship team because of a tactically inept manager and some woeful performances from some of the individuals in a Portsmouth shirt.

Martin Cranie was given the runaround by Dyer and couldn't cope with his pace. Why didn't Tony Adams opt for the more experienced Pamarot or the impressive Marc Wilson to fill in the huge gap that Glen Johnson's absence made?

Sol Campbell's lack of pace was highlighted for all to see, Nadir Belhadj showed no defensive awareness at all and couldn't run forward either, Dave Nugent was anonymous on the right wing, Armand Traore was practically useless and Peter Crouch spent most of the time tracking back and helping the midfield.

And why did Adams select Richard Hughes when he clearly wasn't ready for a first team return? His injury re-occurred late in the game having been outbattled by the opposition midfielders and he left straight for the tunnel to be replaced with Younes Kaboul late on.

Many Pompey fans are likening this result to the infamous 4-1 defeat to Leyton Orient back in 2002 and I have to agree. The only positive we can take from this game is that Jermaine Pennant looked quite bright and should be a good signing for us if he keeps it up.

The result of this defeat is now concentrating on the league and battling the serious threat of relegation. Gone is the so-called run of "easier" fixtures when we failed to beat Fulham, Hull, Newcastle and West Ham at home with the latter two thrashing us. Now we have the likes of Villa, Chelsea and Liverpool coming to town with a trip to Old Trafford in the middle.

Adams needs to rally the troops, sign some reinforcements and prepare for the long slog against relegation with about 12 other teams because if we continue to play like this then we will be playing teams like Swansea on a regular basis in the Championship next season.

Pompey Player Ratings

David James: 6 - No chance with the goals and made a couple of saves to spare further embarrassment.

Martin Cranie: 4 - Dyer constantly got the better of him.

Sol Campbell: 5 - Lack of pace was exploited.

Sylvain Distin: 5 - Not his usual self.

Nadir Belhadj: 3 - Gave away a costly penalty, caught out time and time again and offered nothing going forward.

David Nugent: 3 - Just as well have been invisible.

Jermaine Pennant: 6 - Looks like me might be useful when played in his correct position.

Sean Davis: 5 - Outbattled and showed little quality.

Richard Hughes: 5 - Clearly not fully fit.

Armand Traore: 3 - Utterly woeful.

Peter Crouch: 5 - Ineffective up front on his own, did slightly better with Kanu up front with him.


Asmir Begovic

Younes Kaboul (Hughes 84): N/A - On for injured Hughes.

Noe Pamarot

Hermann Hreidarsson (Traore 46): 6 - Far more solid than Belhadj at the back.

Arnold Mvuemba

John Utaka

Kanu (Nugent 46): 6 - Did well when he came on.