Since The Millennium: Pompey's Seasons Worst To Best: Part III

Last updated : 09 June 2018 By Jim Bonner

Here they are, Pompey's best seasons since everyone was afraid the millennium bug was going to end the world. All in my humble opinion of course, so feel free to disagree and sound off on Twitter!

8th) 2005/2006: 17th in Premier League

This season will simply be remembered for Pompey's Great Escape from relegation when it seemed like a certainty until Pedro Mendes' moment(s) of magic against Man City.

That sparked an amazing run of results which ensured Portsmouth would play in the top flight after a memorable 2-1 win at Wigan. This campaign will also be remembered for Harry Redknapp's return from Southampton after Alain Perrin was sacked and Alexandre Gaydamak purchasing half of the club from Milan Mandaric.

Other than that, most of the season before March was utterly forgettable other than one or two notable peaks or troughs mentioned below:

Season Highlights

  • The 4-1 thrashing of Sunderland at the Stadium of Light which saw Matt Taylor score a sublime and ridiculous goal with Zvonimir Vukic and Dario Silva (remember them?) bagging the other two. The Black Cats were a goal up at half-time, too!
  • The two stunners from Pedro Mendes against Man City, the second of which took the roofs off the stands when it was scored in stoppage time.
  • Most of the following games after that. The 4-2 win at West Ham, the 3-1 victory at Fulham and then the final act at Wigan.
  • At the time, Gaydamak coming in and giving Redknapp free reign to spend "his" money.

Season Lowlights

  • Seeing cult heroes like Steve Stone and Arjan De Zeeuw replaced by future Scummers Jhon Viafara and Gregory Vignal.
  • So many league defeats but the one which stands out was at Charlton where two late goals meant Andres D'Alessandro's  amazing goal was for nothing. It was hard to take at the time.
  • Suffering a humiliating defeat to League One Gillingham in the League Cup courtesy of a missed penalty and an own goal.
  • In hindsight, Gaydamak coming in and giving Redknapp free reign to spend "his" money.

7th) 2008/2009: 14th in Premier League

The only reason this season ranks so high was because of the truly memorable stint in the UEFA Cup, even if it was fairly brief. The two matches against Guimaraes will live long in the memory whilst the AC Milan match will forever be etched in Pompey folklore.

Otherwise, the turn of the new year truly marked the decline of our football club with the player exodus beginning as the club's financial problems came to light. Redknapp left (again) and left Tony Adams to almost take a team containing a fair chunk of the F.A. Cup winning squad down to the Championship before Paul Hart steadied the ship.

Season Highlights

  • Beating Everton 3-0 at Goodison Park was sweet given how many times they luckily beat Pompey in the past.
  • Beating Vitoria Guimaraes home and away despite a scare in the second leg. Anyone who made the trip to Portugal will never forget it.
  • The AC Milan match, minus the last five minutes.
  • Beating Sunderland 3-1 in the last home game of the season to give Linvoy Primus the farewell he deserved.

Season Lowlights

  • Seeing the likes of Sulley Muntari, Pedro Mendes, Jermain Defoe and Lassana Diarra depart the club as well as Harry Redknapp ditching Pompey again, this time for Tottenham.
  • Virtually all of Tony Adams' tenure at Fratton Park culminating in losing 3-2 to Liverpool in stoppage time before he was given the boot.
  • Losing 6-0 at Man City was one of those results you had to laugh at or else you would have cried.
  • A timid defence of the F.A. Cup ending with a 2-0 home defeat to Championship Swansea.

6th) 2004/2005: 16th in Premier League

Pompey's second season was undoubtedly tougher than the first whilst some of the novelty had worn off. Of course, this wasn't helped by Harry Redknapp going down the road to Southampton in pure spite all because Milan Mandaric wanted to bring in Velimir Zajec.

Still, all Portsmouth fans had the last laugh on Redknapp as his relegation threatened side were battered 4-1 at Fratton Park whilst securing their own safety in the process. The Stains then got relegated as Pompey fans partied with Baggies fans at The Hawthorns on the final day, having secured their own Great Escape.

There were other pulsating home games to watch including another victory over Manchester United and a debut win for Alain Perrin over Charlton after a terrible run of form saw Zajec dismissed.

Season Highlights

  • Humiliating Redknapp, Smith, Bond and Quashie's Scummers 4-1 at Fratton Park and it should have been more.
  • Beating United, who had just ended Arsenal's 49 game unbeaten streak (a streak that should never have got anywhere near that high), 2-0 at Fratton Park was as good as it got that season.
  • Entertainment aplenty at home. Wins over Fulham (4-3), West Brom (3-2) and Charlton (4-2) got the crowd going.

Season Lowlights

  • Redknapp's defection to them lot down the road and then being knocked out of the F.A. Cup by them thanks to a dubious red card and even more dubious penalty at St. Mary's.
  • Getting beaten 3-0 at Watford in the League Cup quarter-finals when there was a genuine chance of winning it before Redknapp quit.
  • Too many awful away days to count.
  • Kostas Chalkias

5th) 2006/2007: 9th in Premier League

After three seasons of struggle in the top flight, this campaign was the one where Pompey really kicked on (for two years anyway) as Gaydamak took full control of the club and big name players like David James, Sol Campbell and Glen Johnson came to Fratton Park.

Gone were the defensive frailties of previous seasons and the Blues were in contention for European football until the final match of the season, where a win over Arsenal would have seen Pompey finish 7th and qualify for the UEFA Cup. If only Graham Poll hadn't disallowed that goal...

Season Highlights

  • A superb start to the season saw Pompey top of tree after a 1-0 win at The Valley and the fans knew that this season wasn't going to be a struggle.
  • Matt Taylor's wondergoal against Everton. Kanu's volley in the same game wasn't bad, either.
  • Beating Manchester United and Liverpool at Fratton Park. Again.

Season Lowlights

  • A run of one win from nine from late December to early March put the brakes on a charge for Europe.
  • A home defeat to Charlton "they're here to be beaten, aren't they?" Athletic with former Pompey midfielder Amdy Faye scoring his only goal in English football for the winner.
  • Losing 4-2 at bottom feeders Watford having beaten the top team just two days before.

4th) 2003/2004: 13th in Premier League

All Pompey fans were excited for their first taste of Premiership football and how the top flight had changed since 1988 and nobody was quite sure what to expect.

Some fans feared the worst as Paul Merson departed and Svetoslav Todorov was ruled out for the entire season through injury. However, Harry Redknapp made some shrewd signings in Teddy Sheringham, Dejan Stefanovic and Patrik Berger with the likes of Lomana LuaLua coming later in the season whilst the likes of Yakubu and Matt Taylor stepped up.

A superb start which saw Pompey thrash Bolton to go top of the league and be robbed of victory at Highbury due to Robert Pires' dive soon descended into a relegation battle due to a terrible away record and injury problems.

However, a win over Southampton at Fratton Park was the catalyst to a superb run of results, including a 1-0 win over United, which eventually saw Pompey finish well clear of trouble to complete a memorable first season back at the big table.

Season Highlights

  • The opening 2-1 win against Aston Villa which suggested Pompey could hold their own against the big boys. The 4-0 thrashing of Bolton in the next home game confirmed that as Pompey went top.
  • Some breathtaking attacking football at Fratton Park saw Leeds thrashed 6-1, Man City beat 4-2 and Middlesbrough hammered 5-1 on the final day.
  • Beating Liverpool twice. Once in the league and once in the F.A. Cup after a replay. Richard Hughes of all people scoring!
  • Not the result, but the atmosphere during Arsenal's 5-1 win at Fratton Park was special and established the Fratton faithful as being some of the best in the country.
  • Beating Southampton. Obviously.
  • The 2-1 win at Elland Road to virtually confirm Pompey's safety and Leeds' relegation.

Season Lowlights

  • Getting beaten by Scummers twice in December.
  • Having to wait until March 27th for an away win in the Premier League courtesy of a 2-1 victory at Blackburn.
  • The rumours of a fallout between Harry Redknapp and Milan Mandaric which foreshadowed the events of the following season.

3rd) 2016/2017: 1st in League Two

Having failed to win promotion the previous season, the pressure was on Paul Cook to deliver and he did just that despite some misgivings on the way.

When Doncaster were 17 points clear of Pompey in early February, nobody could have envisaged the League Two trophy coming to Fratton Park but somehow it happened despite all the doubts. The 6th of May 2017 will eternally be etched in the minds of every Portsmouth supporter.

Season Highlights

  • Putting the sword to so many teams in League Two, especially during the final run at the end of the season.
  • Shithousing a win over Newport on Boxing Day having gone 2-0 down and missing a penalty to come back and win 3-2.
  • Beating Carlisle 3-0 at Brunton Park was a statement of intent, even if it took a few more matches for everything to click, starting with the midweek win at Crawley followed by a 4-0 thrashing of Colchester on their own patch.
  • Winning promotion at Notts County to officially end the worst period in Portsmouth FC's history.
  • Thrashing Cheltenham 6-1 on the final day to steal the title ahead of bottlers Doncaster and Plymouth was the sweetest feeling ever.

Season Lowlights

  • Seems silly to say but not winning the league more comfortably due to dropping points which never should have been dropped.
  • The now infamous home defeat to Crewe although that ended being the kick up the arse the players needed to turn everything around.

2nd) 2002/2003: 1st in Division One

What a season this was! The sale of Peter Crouch allowed Harry Redknapp to build a good team but at the start of the season nobody realised just how good it would be.

Getting Paul Merson to come to Fratton Park was a masterstroke but the likes of Shaka Hislop, Arjan De Zeeuw, Vincent Pericard, Matt Taylor and Svetoslav Todorov amongst others all came in and played a significant part in the team which would dominate Division One for the most part.

Granted, there were a few minor hiccups on the way to the title but this team were capable of playing devastating attacking football as well as winning ugly when it was required. The team were an absolute joy to watch and a team to be proud of.

Season Highlights

  • The style of football in general meant Pompey often scored at least three goals in a game and could open up defenses at will.
  • Winning eight of the first nine games gave the impression that this team was going to achieve great things, the 3-2 win at Palace having been two goals down was proof of that.
  • Beating Millwall 5-0 at The Den despite no Pompey fans being admitted. Honourable mentions for a 6-2 thrashing of Derby, a 4-0 win at Coventry and the final day 5-0 destruction of Bradford at Valley Parade.
  • Beating Burnley 1-0 in a tense match to finally win promotion.
  • The 3-2 win over Rotherham to confirm that Pompey were going up as champions.

Season Lowlights

  • That Leicester farce at Fratton Park.
  • Needing to beat relegation threatened Sheffield Wednesday at home to win promotion only to lose 2-1 to a stoppage time goal which should never have been given. Typical Pompey!

1st) 2007/2008: 8th in Premier League and F.A. Cup winners

It was close but ultimately the season that saw Pompey finish in their highest ever position in the modern era coupled with a major trophy win just earned top spot over the Division One winning season.

The likes of Sylvain Distin, Sulley Muntari and Lassanra Diarra strengthened an already strong squad which was capable of challenging for Europe via the league until reaching the cup final which understandably saw players not give everything through risk of injury.

Whilst there were no victories over the big four in the league this season, none of them came to Fratton Park and won but the huge difference between this season and most others came in the form of Pompey's away record being excellent for a change!

The home record wasn't too bad, either, as Pompey set a new record with Reading for most goals scored in a Premier League game as they thrashed the Royals 7-4. When the goals dried up, Jermain Defoe was signed in January to bang them in and he did just that.

Still, as good as the league campaign was, this season will forever be remembered for winning the F.A. Cup and recently fans remembered that feat on the tenth anniversary of such a glorious day.

All the reasons above combined make the 2007/2008 season the best since the millennium and in all honesty, we're never likely to see a campaign like that one repeated.

Season Highlights

  • Winning the F.A. Cup even if the final itself wasn't great from a neutral perspective.
  • In fact, none of Pompey's cup ties were memorable apart from that surreal match at Old Trafford in the quarter-final. Many felt Portsmouth's name was on the trophy following that 1-0 win over one of the strongest United teams in history.
  • Beating Reading 7-4 in a crazy match which also saw a penalty save and an incorrectly disallowed goal for Papa Bouba Diop.
  • Winning six away matches on the spin in the top flight was simply unheard of for Pompey.

Season Lowlights

  • Being nitpicky, but losing the last four league games to throw away an even higher league finish was mildly irritating and would have been more so had Pompey lost to Cardiff.