England / English Premier League / Europe

Full Credit to Classy Portsmouth

I will admit that I was a little disappointed when I saw that Fox Soccer’s Sunday morning game was Portsmouth – Aston Villa this past weekend.  Portsmouth are currently the only team relegated from the Premiership, sitting on only 15 points after being penalized 9 points for going into administration (the UK version of bankruptcy).  During the past season, they’ve had 6 different owners and multiple weeks where they’ve failed to pay their players.  But they showed on Sunday what they have shown all season, the ability to ignore all the circumstance of their relegation and play some decent football.  Unfortunately, a resilient Villa side was able to find a late 2nd half winner and edge out the spirited Pompey side 2-1.

But the game wasn’t all one way traffic for Villa.  Portsmouth took an early lead through a brilliant 10th minute strike from midfielder Michael Brown, his first goal in close to 6 years and Villa equalized a short time later through John Carew’s 17th minute goal.  But much of the first half and the early parts of the 2nd half was a midfield battle that saw both teams struggle to keep possession and create chances.  Villa eventually took the reigns in the 2nd half before Nathan Delfouneso knocked in a loose ball with 10 minutes remaining.  But Pompey was spirited throughout and had enough of their own chances that a draw wasn’t unconceivable.

This is the effort that I’ve seen from Portsmouth every time when I have watched them this season. They are in the FA Cup Final against Chelsea next month and it would be difficult to argue that they don’t belong there.  And it’s crazy to think that they might secure a European spot regardless of the result of the final.  Save for a couple of drubbings from the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool, Pompey has been competitive in almost every game in the league.  Looking down the page at their results, you see lots of 2-1 games.

So I have to give full credit to Avram Grant and the whole Portsmouth side.  It would have been easy to pack it in after going into administration and just play out the string and call it a season.  But they’ve done anything but that, coming out for every game and at least competing week to week.  And if they can get their financial situation under control and find a reliable owner, you have to tap them to at least compete for promotion straight back to the Prem.

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