Gillingham vs Portsmouth Reaction

Last updated : 21 September 2005 By Keith Allman

Why oh why oh why.

It seems The League Cup is to Pompey what kryptonite is to Superman. It saps all our energy and spirit and makes the most simple of tasks seem like climbing Everest. At least Superman had to deal with evil geniuses trying to thwart him and throw him off course, where was Lex Luther last night? Probably at home watching Sky Sports pissing himself.

Whether it's the Milk Cup, Coca-Cola Cup, Rumbelows Cup or the Mickey Mouse Cup one thing always remains the same, Pompey and our inability to beat lower division sides and embarrass ourselves on a national scale. This defeat hurts more than most. I personally saw the Carling Cup as the best and possibly only chance for some Pompey glory this season. The chance to compete in Europe, a major trophy and a lovely weekend in Cardiff. I counted us up there with a few other Premiership teams as realistic hopefuls of at least getting to the latter stages of the competition. I really, really wanted us to have a decent cup run this year.

If we cast our minds back to the dark old days, everyone can remember Colchester, Peterborough and Wimbledon dishing out similar humiliation to us in the same competition. Who can forget the Watford debacle last season when we were within sniffing distance of the semis. And now add to the list the might of Gillingham. The same Gillingham that cannot string any kind of result together in League 1. And this as a Premiership side, at least in the old days we were crap ourselves, but this Pompey side is the 'best that has ever been at the club' according to Milan. You can forgive us long suffering fans for thinking we were caught up in some kind of less funny remake of Groundhog Day. I can't quite see Alain Perrin as Bill Murray, more Bill Bunter. Even Bill Murray eventually broke the curse and got the girl, when will Pompey ever beat a Gillingham, Cardiff or a Plymouth? Our greatest ever success came against Everton in this competition, back in 1995 when we were lowly in the old division one and Gerry Creaney popped up with a hat-trick to sink the Premiership side over two legs. Maybe that's our problem, we can't handle being the favourites.

But let's not beat around the bush and try to make excuses, it couldn't get much worse than last night; there was not even a weakened side to hide behind. A strong side including a host of 'Premiership' players was exposed and caught out by a side that are in disarray two leagues below us. Before the kick-off it astounded me that Collins Mbesuma was not even in the squad, this it would seem was an ideal opportunity to give the big man his first start after six weeks of training and Everton away 10 days ago seemingly being billed as his 'arrival'. Apparently, there was a confirmed sighting of Collins in Bransbury Park yesterday the closest he has come to a Fratton park since his arrival. You've got to wonder whether Perrin has made a big ricket here and signed a donkey based on a video tape. Why else would you spend £500,000 on a striker, hype him up to be the 'new Yakubu' and then not even put him in the squad for a cup tie against Gillingham when we are hardly scoring for fun? Will we ever see him start for Pompey? And what of Vukic? Another fine opportunity for him to have his first start in a Pompey shirt and build up more of an understanding with the rest of the side, get sharper and his class would have undoubtedly have been too much for the Gills.

The players that did actually play were shown up for all their misgivings against a shocking side. Again, we created a host of chances but yet again we failed to convert them. A very concerning trend. If we had a finisher we would be in with a serious shout of Europe, as it stands we've got five Ricardo Fullers and it looks like he could pass us on the way up this year. Toddy is feeding off scraps in terms of appearances and this blew up in spectacular fashion with his penalty miss. Can you blame him for being rusty with two brief sub appearances all season? And the Pompey 'keeper curse continues to haunt us, will you see a more comical goal than Ashdown's own goal elbow this season. It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic. You look at sides such as Aston Villa (another that we should have put to the sword but for poor finishing) and how they came back from a potential humiliation at Wycombe to rack up eight goals, and wonder what we do wrong so consistently that allows us to make a mockery of our great club time and time again?

The side that played against Gillingham should have walked this game, and saw us comfortably in the hat for the next round. As it is we have been dealt a hefty blow to team morale with an insipid display. In recent years that may have contributed to more of a siege mentality and galvanised the players and management more, but I can't see it this year, I really can't. Now is the time to come out fighting and show us fans what it really means to wear the shirt, even if it is a dreadful red and gold one. We clearly have to do much, much better.

I'll leave the final word to my mate Moley, who eloquently summed up the performance and application of the Pompey players last night,

"What a bunch of c*nts"

I couldn't agree more.