Happy New Year?

Last updated : 01 January 2009 By Jim Bonner

Neville Dalton is a journalist and Portsmouth fan of more than 40 years.

Well, what a year! This time last year, we hadn't even embarked on an FA Cup run which was to end with Big Sol Campbell holding aloft the trophy at the new Wembley Stadium.

We were halfway through a terrific season which was to end with our second successive top-10 finish, and our best ever Premier League placing of eighth.

And we were to enjoy a sadly curtailed European tour which was to take us to Portugal (twice) and Germany, while introducing the likes of Kaka and Ronaldinho to the previously overlooked European venue of Fratton Park.

Meanwhile, another season and another Harry Houdini vanishing act - this time to Spurs, a section of whose fans he had lambasted only a few weeks earlier, accusing them of chanting filth at Pompey captain Sol Campbell.

Within six months or so of winning the Cup, Pompey had dispensed with the services of three of the four midfielders who played that day, replacing them with… no one.

So what's in store for the coming year?

Let's take a look.


Under-pressure manager Tony Adams is in even more trouble after reportedly losing the dressing room.

Pompey's dire financial plight means they cannot afford to replace it, so the players will have to get changed on the pitch… Adams says: "If it's good enough for Hull…"

Adams still insists he has all the proceeds from the January transfer-window sales of Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid), Jermain Defoe (Spurs), Niko Kranjcar (Spurs), Glen Johnson (Spurs), Sol Campbell (Spurs, Arsenal, West Ham, Charlton) and Armand Traore (Arsenal) to spend on new players.

Pompey give back the Cup they had worked so hard to win after being dumped out of this season's competition by Championship side Bristol City's reserves. "We wanted to concentrate on the league," said City boss Gary Johnson.

"Now we can concentrate on the league," says Adams.


Transfer window closes - and Pompey have signed - no one.

"No one available at the right price," says Adams. "So that's who we signed."

He insists he still has all the proceeds from the January sales to spend in the summer - oh, minus the cost of replacement dressing rooms.

"The players felt it was a bit cold, changing on the pitch," he explains. "They like their home comforts. It was either that or the Gents' loos at Bransbury Park."

He also reveals Pompey face a disciplinary hearing after selling Traore - who actually belonged to another club.

"An oversight," explains executive chairman Peter Storrie. "But I'm pretty disappointed with the criticism we've had. It's nothing to do with anyone else, especially the fans. How we deal with business at the football club is our business, nobody else's.

"They should just turn up and support the team. All transfer arrangements are confidential."

Adams confirms this. "Even we haven't a clue what they are," he admits.


Results don't pick up. Pompey haven't won since beating Heerenveen in December. Their last league win was against Blackburn - last November.

Adams is bullish. "Find me a nice cow, and I'll be happy," he says.

Storrie says Adams still enjoys the backing of owner Sasha Gaydamak and the Pompey board - but only at the club's karaoke sessions.


Easter looms and still Pompey haven't won in 2009. Their 3-1 defeat to bottom club West Brom (after taking the lead and missing a penalty) leaves them on the verge of relegation - but with no Pedro Mendes to pull them out of it this time.

"I can see a lot of positives there," says Tony. "For a start, we scored. And we only had 10 men - that's not in the team, that's in the entire squad.

"And I've still got the proceeds of our January sales to spend in June. Oh, except for the new dressing rooms.

"And the money we still owe on some of our previous signings - Crouchie from Liverpool; Johnno from Chelsea; German Deffo from Spurs (I know we gave him back, but apparently we agreed to pay for his loan last year and we didn't notice they were still billing us)."

"Oversight," explains Storrie. "Nothing to do with the fans. Get on with supporting the team… all 10 of them."


Table-topping Arsenal visit Fratton Park - and thump eight-man Pompey 8-0 to send the Blues down to the Championship.

"I can take plenty of positives from that result," says Adams. "Eight men; eight-nil. Nice symmetry, don't you think?"

Adams explains that hard-up Pompey would have had nine players. "But Kev the Kitman did his knee in the warm-up. He lifted his leg to get off the bench.

"But I've still got all the cash from our January sales to spend. Oh, except for the new dressing rooms. And the money we still owe on previous signings.

"Apparently, it goes back further than I thought. Plymouth are asking for the final payment on Norman Piper's transfer.

"And the bloody Ministry of Defence have been on the phone - we haven't finished paying the £450 to buy Guy Whittingham out of the army."

"Oversight," says Storrie. "Nothing to do with anyone else, least of all the Government. And those bloody fans. Why don't they leave the running of the club to those who know best and get on with supporting the team.

"All eight of them."


Pompey get ready to splash out on new players in the transfer window.

But it's too late for some. The News reveals exclusively that Pompey have brought in a new coach.

"It's a Volvo B9R, with all the latest gadgetry so that the driver and the players can enjoy themselves on the way to away games," says Storrie.

"We have reluctantly decided to part with our previous coaching staff, including Mr Adams, as the results were not quite what we were hoping for with such a talented playing squad at our disposal.

"And I hope the fans will give our new coach all the support necessary to achieve the success that we all want to see at Portsmouth.

"Oh, and by the way, the Volvo's gone back. Too big for an eight-man squad. So we've brought in a used Transit. Should do the trick nicely. It was parked opposite our training ground at Eastleigh and Sean Davis (he's a wag) spotted the keys inside, gave it a spin around the Ford car park, and then brought it over to the training complex.

"Nice move."

He adds: "I hope the supporters will give our new coach a push… if it breaks down."

As Adams prepares to leave Fratton for the last time, he holds one final press conference, where he reveals: "I can take some positives from this…

"I'll get back to you on that one."