(WORDS BY JIM FOSTER)
As much as I hate saying it, a prediction I made earlier in the season in this column looks very much like coming true. For those of you that might not have read it (and the rest of you that did, but have forgotten) I said that, by Christmas, we'd probably be in the bottom three and would be as good as relegated if things didn't turn around pretty sharpish.
Well, they haven't turned around. Nor are they likely to as long as that cretin Perrin is in charge. In fact, I reckon confidence in the camp hasn't been as low as this since the season when we had to win at Huddersfield on the last day in order to stay up. Good old Deon Burton – bring him back! He can't be as bad as Karadas!
Let's get one thing clear now. Losing to Liverpool at Anfield is no disgrace. I can take it. But what I cannot stomach is the manner of the defeat, and many of those that have preceded it since Perrin took charge of the first team.
Where was the passion on Saturday? Where was the passion during the Wigan match before that? Where was the fight, the commitment? Could we not at least make it hard for Liverpool, rather than rolling over and dying as soon as that rather harsh penalty indirectly hit the back of the net? Talking of penalties, are we ever going to win one again? Are we ever going to win again???
No matter what the players might say verbally about being behind the manager, look at their body language during and after games at the moment. Are they motivated to try? No. Are they motivated to fight, to scrap for every tackle? No. Do their heads go down as soon as things start going wrong? Yes.
Body language is a very interesting thing. I've never been able to master it with women, but I can tell from the Pompey players at the moment that they just don't want to play for Perrin, no matter what might be said. And losing seems to be becoming a habit. And that's not good.
Other than Lualua and Ashdown, who was standing up for the cause, and for Perrin, at Anfield? And why oh why does cretin Perrin so blatantly stick with a system that isn't working? What's wrong with having two strikers on the pitch at the same time, for God's sake! Especially at home. And what's wrong with Todorov? And Mbesuma?
I find it highly amusing now in an ironic way that, when we employed Perrin, we were told that he had great ability as a motivator.
Perrin a motivator? Not in my book. The bloke couldn't motivate my cock if I was stuck in bed with that fit bird off I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here (and no I don't mean Carol Thatcher you sick pervs. God did you see the size of her bush last night when she went for a piss? Frightening. She really needs to give it a trim).
I actually mean that Kimberley bit of stuff – you know, the blonde that used to be on Neighbours about 12 years ago. She's still dead fit! Cracking tits. I had plenty of early nights thinking about her, if you know what I mean. Maybe that's where the ‘w*nker' chant from the Fratton End comes from.
Ooops why do I always seem to go off on a tangent like that? Back to the footie.
It seems that, reading between the lines of quotes we're fed from the tabloids and broadsheets, Milan has finally seen and accepted that Perrin just isn't going to cut it in the Premier League. I could have told him that a couple of games into the season, but anyway, nothing's going to change what's happened. We are where we are and something needs to be done about it. So, assuming Perrin does get the bullet, let's think a bit about who would replace him, starting with the most ridiculous choices first.
Well, apart from a complete lack of knowledge when it comes to all things tactical at football, and despite the fact I don't have a single contact in the scouting game around Europe, and despite the fact I'm a crap footballer myself (touch of a rapist my mates tell me) I reckon I could do better than Perrin.
I'd get rid of those four-goal training sessions for a start and take the lads out for a big piss-up in Amsterdam at the first available opportunity. Milan could come too – I'd take him to a café and while he was under the influence I'd get him to give me the money to sign Samuel Eto'o from Barcelona. He should get some goals, and therefore the team spirit going.
I'd also buy a big trenchcoat, get some stubble, dye my hair grey and pretend I was Jose Mourinho. And I wouldn't always play with one striker up front, either.
As things are I'd probably start with Collins on the bench, with Toddy and Lualua playing up front together in a 4-4-2. I'd stick Robert wide on the left, Matty Taylor just inside him (great engine, a possible box-to-box player as Perrin correctly asserted) with GON on the right centre of midfield. I'd possibly start with Diao, too, who's impressed me this season, when we need to be more defensively minded. Ideally I'd like Stoney back for the right of midfield, but we can't do that, so I'd be tempted to play Silva out wide. He's nippy, can create and can swap with Toddy during the match to help confuse opposition defenders. And I'd ban back passes and tell Richard Hughes that to win football games the ball needs to go forward. Not back.
At the back? First of all I'd ring Doctor Who and go back in time in the Tardis to tell De Zeeuw that we all love him and he'll play every game he ever wants to play in for us. But if the Doctor told me that wasn't possible, and I don't think it is, I'd have Ashdown in goal, Linvoy at right back, Dejan and O'Brien in the middle and Vignal at left-back. The alternative to this is to have Matty at left back and put GON and Diao in central midfield. I think they'd complement each other nicely.
My tactical talk at home? Attack! Attack! Attack attack attack! And my tactical talk away? Hit ‘em on the break – then attack! Attack! Attack!!! Shoot on sight! Close them down! Don't give ‘em an inch!!! And hit ‘em HARD!!!!!
Yes, my pa. He went to see his first Pompey match in 1950-something and has been in 40,000-plus gates at Fratton. Oh those must have been the days! Anyway, since I was born he tells me that he's been a better manager than Ian St John, Frank Burrows, Jim Smith (twice), Terry Fenwick, Graham Rix, John Gregory, Tony Pulis… you get the picture. So he must be better than Perrin. Must be. And therefore would make a good choice for Perrin's successor.
Well, the players would like her more than dad. Probably cause she's a bird. Don't let that deceive you though – she's the one that wears the trousers in our family and she'd wear ‘em in the dressing room, too. And as she has been a regular at FP since the 70s, she should know what she's on about (apart from the offside rule. Hasn't quite got the hang of that one yet. Mind you, neither did Yakubu when he was playing for us, and that didn't stop him scoring. The only problem would be he might want to score with my mum when we play Boro next. YUK! Stop now)!
4 Big Tim
Okay, who's Big Tim you're asking? Well he's the bloke that sits next to me every match coming out with ridiculous phrases such as, “Bradbury! Bradbury! It's a f*cking football match, not a tea party!” Which I always found odd as he only ever used to say this to Lee Bradbury. Now his target for vilification (somewhat unfairly) is Andy Griffin, whom he calls a ‘football monkey'. He describes Perrin as a ‘busted flush' and believes we will never have a new stadium. Ever. Which pretty much rules him out of the job then.
5 Roy Keane
Only slightly less ludicrous than my mum taking over in the hotseat is Roy Keane. Good old Keano. He'd put the ‘P' for passion back into Pompey. I can imagine his teamtalk… “Roight ye foikers… if ye don't start winning, OI'll foookin' kick the shite out o' ya…”
Er, I'd start playing, wouldn't you? But seriously, I couldn't imagine Roy Keane coming to Fratton. What would he come for? The coaching role? The pies in the Upper North Stand canteen? The ladies in Bar Blue on the seafront? Mind you stranger things have happened.
6 Neil Warnock
I always remember seeing a Football Focus interview with Neil Warnock once. It was back in the late 1980s (possibly) and I think, though I might be wrong, that he was manager of Notts County at the time, who were having a mini-revival under his leadership.
One of his key motivation techniques was to soak his players in freezing, ice-laden water. He'd do it once before the game, when each naked player would have a bucketful tipped over him to ‘sharpen the senses' in front of his team-mates, and the other afterwards where all the hot water was turned off in the baths if they lost. I'd pay money to see Warnock tip a bucket of freezing cold water over Laurent Robert!
Seriously, Sheffield Utd say he's tied up contractually with them, and that he's a ‘Blade'. But Milan's millions might tempt him, and there's no doubt that his fire and grit could take us out of the relegation zone we'll be in by the time he arrives. My only question mark would be over his tactical acumen in the Premier League.
7 George Burley
Don't know much about George other than he did okay for Ipswich for a season or two then did okay with Derby for a short spell, then did okay at Hearts before doing something naughty and getting the boot. Maybe he was sleeping with one of the player's wives or something… which would make Graham Rix's appointment pure genius!
8 Harry Redknapp
Ummmm. Would you welcome him back? Would I? Not sure. To be honest, I doubt there'd be a lot he could do for us with the players we have now. If he couldn't do it for the Scum last season, why would he be able to do the same thing this season? And it's not as if Scum have set the Cola league ablaze under him, is it… But he is more likely to get the job than me, Big Tim, my mum or my dad.
9 Giovanni Trappatoni
Currently trapping furry, wild animals somewhere in the Italian Alps. Hence his family name. But would most definitely be up for the job. (I only put his name in here as it came into my head. Well the tabloids do it, so why can't I?)
Unfortunately, I think we're so far in the mire that we're not going to get out. No matter who comes in after Perrin. A miracle aside during the January transfer window, which might just see us unearth a gifted striker from somewhere, I think we're doomed. And Milan will need to get a new manager in before the window opens, so he can start working his (or her if me mum gets the post) magic…
On the positive side, I did laugh out loud for a second when Crouch missed his penalty. Then Zenden stuck the rebound in, so Scummer beanpole missing wasn't much of a consolation, really. What was far more amusing was to hear that Redknapp's lot were 3-0 up with 19 minutes to go, only to lose 4-3 to Leeds! And they were at home as well! Awesome!
Well, that's about it from me this month. I apologise if my rants have been slightly on the crazy side, but that's what being a supporter of Portmouth FC does to you. Why is it we're always dragged through the mill? Nothing is ever easy at PFC. Nothing is ever simple. Everything always has to be done the hard way, which is what worries me about the new stadium development.
To finish off, a quick interview with a Liverpool fan I work and play football with. His name is Richard Stewart (never trust someone with two first names. Definitely can be inbred)…
Jim Foster: So, what do you reckon, Rich?
Richard Stewart: Reckon about what?
JF: Er, the football, you tosser?
RS: Oh, yeah. We won. 3-0. Who scored?
JF: Er, you don't know? IS there any other light you'd like to shed on the match on Saturday? Did you go, for instance?
JF: Have you ever nicked a hubcap?
JF: Have you ever nicked a car stereo?
JF: Don't believe you. When was the last time you went to Anfield?
JF: What famous Scottish striker scored loads of goals for Liverpool then managed them to glory in the late 1980s? First name rhymes with ‘penny'?
At this point I gave up. Poor Rich, masquerading as a Scouser. He could at least pretend he was a fan of a club that had a chance of winning something… Chelsea, perhaps, Rich?