The Tuesday Column

By Jim Foster. Currently a publisher and journalist with Haymarket Media Group, which produces FourFourTwo magazine, Jim is a lifelong Pompey fan and has seen them play in all four leagues. The views he expresses are solely his and not those of the pompey-mad website, or of Haymarket Media Group.

1 Pompey v Man Utd

Oh no! It's all doom and gloom already in some quarters. After looking at the message boards on some websites, you could be forgiven for thinking we're going to have a disastrous season already.

I'd like to order a dose of reality please for those who are writing us off at this early stage. Let's get things in perspective.

Okay, last night's performance wasn't a classic. We didn't create much, lumped the ball high too often for Crouch and the 5ft 4in Defoe, and lacked any real width to provide those penetrating kinds of crosses that our target men need if they are to score on a regular basis.

Ferdinand and Vidic were imperious. They were totally dominant in the air - it was as if their brains were made of iron and there was a magnet in the ball.

In Ferdinand's case, the former is probably true, but I think the fact they were subjected to such an aerial bombardment was more down to a lack of creativity on our part.

But don't worry. Chelsea and Man Utd are both class. They are two of the best teams in world football. Not many clubs will get points off them this season. So losing each game isn't the end of the world, or a disgrace.

Remember this: we have had the hardest start it is possible to have to a season. That is undeniable. You can't judge any team on a basis like that. We only had two points on the board at the same stage last year, and one of them was against Derby - who would only go on to get another 10 or so all season.

2 Our Performance

Our performance last night was much improved on the Chelsea game. We showed passion and commitment, in the first half especially.

Defensively, we were much better. Apart from the goal, which was slightly unlucky, I thought there was potential in the Sol and Kaboul partnership. And Jamo looked as solid as ever; though how much Sylvain will like playing at left back, I don't know.

When I was at school, I always played left-back. That was because, in those days, if you were crap, that's where you played. And I was definitely crap.

But as we saw last night with Evra's performance, and last week with Bosingwa, full-back should no longer be seen as a 'crap' position to have in a team.

Backs are now a crucial part of the game tactically, and need to have pace and cover more turf than just about any other player on the pitch. Some of Evra's runs were excellent - the service he provided Rooney and Tevez was impressive. So take note Johnson and Traore!

I was happy Wayne didn't have his shooting boots on. When he rammed one down James' throat, I breathed a sigh of relief.

(As an aside, I can't think of any other situation where I would be glad of Rooney 'ramming one down someone's throat'. Maybe there were some grannies at Fratton Park last night that would disagree).

If we put in the same degree of passion and effort against the likes of Spurs, Boro, Hull, Stoke etc then we will be in for another top 10 finish this season. Of that I am sure.

The only thing I am slightly concerned over is this - who, other than Krajcar, is going to be a playmaker for us from midfield this season? Who is going to provide the true width?

We seem to be placing an awful lot of hope on Glenn Little who is a) old b) never fit and c) unproven at this level, and Jerome Thomas who is a) unpredictable b) unproven at this level and c)… well, called Jerome. And I don't know of any good footballers that have ever been called that!

3 The 'Ref'- And Respect

While I would not use this as an excuse for losing, Chris Foy, Man Utd's referee last night, commanded virtually zero respect from me. He put in a pretty poor and inconsistent performance.

In the first half, why was Diop booked when O'Shea wasn't following a near identical foul committed minutes earlier? Both tackles warranted a yellow card.

And why on earth, when we got a free kick 6 yards or so outside the area in the second half, didn't he book any Man Utd players when they steadfastly ignored his requests for their wall to retreat the full 10 yards?

Their players (and ours I guess) showed a complete lack of respect for his authority. So much for the 'Respect' initiative. But then, Mr Foy didn't really put in a performance that was worthy of any respect - either from us fans, or the players.

4 New Season, New Faces

One of the things I like about the new season is discovering which old faces from previous seasons will still be in the seats around me, and which people have gone.

Last season I had a really annoying, Mars Bar-munching, ginger, woolly glove-wearing, Pompey beanie hat idiot next to me. Who smelled and had really, really bad breath.

But most annoying of all, he would clap very loudly (as loudly as you can wearing woolly gloves) even when naff-all was happening in the game. Diop would blast one into Row Z. 'Clap clap clap' he went!

And then he'd hold both hands up together to his mouth, adopting the pose we all used to when, in school assemblies aged 8, we had to recite the Lord's Prayer together.

I was glad to see though that the lads in front of us have retained their tickets. We have a decent bit of banter with them, and a few laughs every game.

Oh, and the grannies three rows in front with the purple rinses are still there too; with 'psycho granddad geezer', who always loses the plot at least once every match.

Last night was no different. This bloke must be approaching 70, if not more, and you could feel the anger welling up inside him as Chris Foy kept on making dubious decisions.

The one that really threw him mentally over the edge was when Defoe was clearly tripped by the corner flag under the big plasma screen.

Psycho granddad leapt to his feet to offer Mr Foy a stream of obscenities so bad, even I wouldn't dream of publishing them on this website. Apart from saying that he questioned the ref's solo bedroom habits, his birth status and the part of the female anatomy from which he entered the world. If you get my drift.

I'll bring you more news of psycho granddad as the season progresses. Let's hope a future dodgy ref doesn't bring on a coronary.

5. Air Malta and the FA Cup

I was delighted to see that, now Pompey are in Europe for the first time, we have an official airline partner! Yes, step forward Air Malta.

The prestige of it! Their comprehensive range of flights will be perfect to take all Pompey fans abroad to catch a UEFA cup game or two this season - provided we get through round one, of course. That's as long as we, er, draw a team in Malta.

Finally, it was nice to see the FA Cup paraded around the ground prior to kick-off. 'We fucked your treble up!' chanted some lads behind me to the Man Utd fans as the silverware was marched past.

But only at Pompey could the FA Cup have been paraded around the ground by a couple of pie-munching, beer-swilling, fat stewards. Surely at any other club, they might have got a couple of old legends to walk it round?

But then again, I guess those stewards could have been long-time servants of the club, donating their services free-of-charge each weekend. So maybe it was fitting for them to do it. It just looked a bit - well - 'Pompey', that's all!