The Monday Column
By Keith Allman
Updated Monday, 12th September 2005
Journalist Jim Foster reflects on the weekend's football action exclusively every Monday
(NB - This story is not by Keith Allman, it's by Jim Foster. I just can't work out how to change the banner above ;-) - Ed)
Well how's about that, then? No sooner do I offer my services to write a column about the legendary Portsmouth Football Club on this website then we only go and get our first win at Goodison Park since the 1950s. Come on!
James Beattie, Gary Lineker, Andy Gray, David Moyes, any Scouser in blue… your team took one hell of a beating. Well, as much of a beating as a 1-0 win to us can be courtesy of an own-goal from Duncan 'Doughnut' Ferguson!
Talking of Big Dunc, he's a player who is usually our nemesis, but he had a bit of a nightmare, didn't he? He couldn't bully Andy and Dejan into submission at the back, despite his thug-like tendencies, and he missed a couple of good chances in front of the goal he was supposed to score in.
To be honest, the whole team played pretty well. Even Salif Diao looked pretty steady in central midfield, much to the amazement of the Everton fans. So could this result spark an up-turn in our fortunes this season? Only time will tell.
One thing I would like to comment on was the inclusion of Jamie Ashdown again. Welcome back Jamie!
In my view it's no coincidence that our first clean sheet of the season comes with his return between the sticks. I'm not saying Westerveld is a bad keeper (I think we now have the strongest keeper situation at the club we've had for a long time), but from what I've seen I think Ashdown is better.
Sander's howlers have cost us a couple of points already this season, though I was still surprised to find him dropped to the bench on Saturday.
I assume there wasn't an injury involved. If there wasn't, some credit must go to Perrin for being strong enough to drop Westerveld - a move that must seem a bit like admitting that you've made a mistake.
Now our manager has to bite the bullet and give Jamie a good run in the team, for the sake of solidity and consistency at the back. I wonder how Stefanovic, O'Brien, Vignal and Priske rate both Ashdown and Westerveld? Which keeper would they choose behind them?
The whole way in which Jamie Ashdown has been managed in the past few months is questionable, in my view.
The lad is a damn-good keeper, so how must he have felt last season when Zajec dropped him for Chalky-arse after doing nothing wrong? And after Perrin dropped him at the start of this season for Westerveld, again after doing nothing wrong?
Yet credit to Ashdown. Unlike others, he hasn't thrown his teddies out of the pram and asked for a transfer to some cash-ridden, rugby league-loving outpost up north. Neither has he whinged in the press, though he's had the chance. He's just got on with it and has got his chance back in the first team. Let's hope he gets picked for the Brum game this weekend.
I've also been wondering if Perrin has something against the players signed before his arrival. Note how Griffin was dropped for Priske, despite that player only arriving on the same day he played against Villa. And Ashdown for Westerveld. And Vignal for Taylor. Even Lualua, if reports are to be believed, is unsettled.
In this weekend's Sportsmail, Jordan Cross wrote an interesting column saying how it didn't matter if the players didn't like Perrin. He used the comparison of Alex Ferguson and various other top-name, proven managers as evidence of how it doesn't matter when players don't like the boss.
But there's a big difference between not liking the boss and not respecting him, and I just wonder how much respect Perrin carries in the Fratton dressing room? As much as Ferguson does in his? I doubt it.
Enough of the gloom. Overall I am quite excited now about the coming season, now. One win can do so much!
Thanks to the efforts of Peter Storrie, who travelled the length and breadth of Europe prior to transfer deadline day (what an unsung hero for our cause he is), I think we have a decent squad and have every chance, with a bit of luck and support, of staying up again.
Another positive for me about our Goodison success (apart from the 3 points, obviously) was this - I work in the Midlands, in an office near Coventry, and one of my staff is a mad-keen Toffee whose dad used to play for their reserves.
"Guaranteed three points for us at the weekend," the cheeky Scouse f***er said last Thursday. "You boys are destined for the drop!"
"Ah," I replied, while considering whether to sack the git or not. "I'll have a fiver on that. We've been playing quite well in the last couple of matches without getting any luck. I think we'll do you on Saturday."
Now, it's not very often I bet on Pompey. It's kind of a superstition thing, especially when it comes to betting on them winning. I always used to think that, if I had a bet on them actually winning a match, it would condemn them to defeat before a ball was even kicked.
But not this time! So if there are any Brummies around who fancy having a bet with me for this weekend's match, let's say a fiver (and no I won't give you the draw, I'm not THAT confident yet), then bring it on.
I'm going to change tack now slightly and talk Collins Mbesuma. I remember reading in The News a few weeks ago (was it just after the Spurs defeat?) that September the 10th was the date the Premiership was going to be shaken by the arrival of Collins.
Now, I could be wrong, but I'm sure Monsieur Perrin was quoted as saying our 'new Yak' would be ready for this game. Everton was to be his target.
So I have to question, has something gone wrong here? Is he quite as good as we all thought he might be when he signed? Or have we got ourselves a bit of a dud here, the result of signing someone on the basis of watching a few video tapes?
Interesting that Sam Allerdyce didn't want to sign him without running the rule over him in training first. I suspect Sam was just being careful, but you never know.
I'm not passing any judgement on Collins. It would be wrong to do so. I was on holiday for the Spurs game and didn't see him come off the bench, so I can only assume that the lad is still a little short of match fitness - a possible result of eating too many pies or drinking too many beers!
If anyone else has any views on this, let me know. I guess the only reason why he wasn't in the last reserve match was because he was in Zambia.
Anyway, just because he might be a big lad doesn't mean he won't score goals. Micky Quinn was pretty good, after all, and he looked more like a Michelin man than a footballer.
"He's fat, he's round, his jockstrap's made by Puma, Mbesuma, Mbesuma…"
And so we reach the end of my first weekly column. It's been fun writing it and if anyone has any comments they want to pass on to me about anything I say, feel free to contact me at email@example.com and I might include your comments next time.
Before I go, I mentioned earlier that I work in an office in the Midlands. There are about 70 of us working here, including lots of fans of different clubs, both Premiership and otherwise (Coventry have a good showing, as you'd expect).
I thought I'd interview one of them each week just to get a rival's view on how we're doing. So who better than the Toffee I took a fiver off to kick us off… See you next week.
Occupation: Sub editor
The Weekly Fan Interview
Jim Foster: So, you're an Everton fan?
Lee Jones: Yes.
JF: What was your take on the match?
LJ: Well, it wasn't a match as far as I heard. By all accounts there was only one side in it.
LJ: Yes. F*****g you.
JF: Why have you been so crap so far this season after a great season last year?
LJ: I don't believe we have been that 'crap' as you put it. We've played Man U and lost 2-0, no disgrace. We got a good win at Bolton and we never do anything at Craven Cottage (where we lost 1-0). Then there's Pompey. You can't legislate for a thick Scotsman heading into his own net.
JF: Careful. He's a nutter and he'll be after you. When was the last time you went to Goodison Park?
LJ: For the home Champions League leg against Villarreal.
JF: A brief taste at the top then.
JF: Don't want to elaborate on that then?
LJ: I blame Collina. We had a thick Scotsman have a goal ruled out for pushing in Spain, or something. Doesn't he realise that that's Big Duncan's normal game?
JF: Is it true that your dad used to play for Everton?
LJ: Yes, well kind of. He played for the reserves, never quite made it into the first team. He was spotted while playing for the army while doing national service - he was a left half.
JF: Do you think Pompey will stay up this season?
LJ: Yes, but it will be tight.
JF: What about Alain Perrin?
LJ: I love his sauce.
JF: Ok, predictions for final placements in the Premiership for Everton and Pompey…
LJ: Everton will finish 14th, Pompey 16th.
JF. Thanks. Bye.
LJ: Bye. Can I have my fiver back for that?
JF: **** off or you'll get the sack.