Sep 25, 2009

While we were gone -- at the bottom

There's no nice way of saying this: Portsmouth are a terrible team. The first team to lose their first six games since Leicester City in the early 1980s, and they've scored three and conceded 12 goals in those games. We're looking at a potentially record-breaking season of awfulness here.

The worst part of it (for Pompey fans) is that while some very good players left in the summer -- Sol Campbell and Niko Kranjcar to name two -- they still have quality in their squad: David James, Younes Kaboul, Tal Ben-Haim, Jamie O'Hara and Tommy Smith, for instance. That's not get-you-into-Europe quality, but it's also not worst-Prem-team-ever quality, either.

And yet so far it is. Paul Hart always had a tough task this season -- one Guardian pundit suggested that if they stay up he should win the manager of the year award -- but things have gotten real bad real quick and the pressure's starting to show. What's more, it seems Pompey's loadsamoney Arab owner is somewhat less spendthrift than his Manchester City-owning cousins, and now news comes that their one rock of stability over the past year or so is considering leaving the club.

This week sees them taking on a resurgent Everton, who seem to have regained their winning ways after a slow start, winning four of their last five games, and two of three in the league.

Hull face the most daunting trip of the struggling teams, going to Anfield for what should be a shellacking by Liverpool. Hull manager Phil Brown is in big heap trouble these days -- as the Guardian notes, his team has won just one league game in its last 22 outings, form that would make even a Pompey fan blush.

The other team at the foot of the table is Blackburn Rovers. Many in England don't like Sam Allardyce -- just ask Newcastle fans -- but his record at Blackpool, Notts County and Bolton Wanderers deserves respect. As does the work he did at Rovers in the second half of last season. It'd be a surprise if his team are relegated; then again, maybe it would just prove the naysayers were right all long.

As with Hull and Pompey, Blackburn face a tough tie, at home to an in-form Aston Villa, winners of five straight. Perhaps the recovery will have to wait another week.

Photo taken from The Sun Web site without permission.

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