Opposing View - Portsmouth
What were your hopes/fears/expectations for the season?
At the start of the season I was quite optimistic, we had a reasonably strong squad and time to bond together, but it was clear after our first 7 games that something was not clicking. Our fall down the table was disheartening and although most of the fans are reasonably confident that we won't be relegated, it has landed a blow for anyone who was looking to sneak into a play-off spot.
How disappointed or otherwise are you by the departure of Steve Cotterill?
Personally, I was disappointed to see him go. His tactics did seem to split the club into two camps, and I was on the pro-Cotterill side. I think last season he did incredibly well with the resources he had, and now that he had built what was essentially his own team I feel that given a bit more time he could take us to the next level. But since his departure we have remained strong and the team has been playing with a new sense of freedom that we hadn't seen in quite some time, so maybe it was the right move after all.
As expected, West Brom No.2 Michael Appleton got the job, what are your thoughts?
Like most people, I started off by wondering who he was. But upon researching him a bit he seems to be very highly thought of as a coach and has great managerial potential. To be honest I'd rather give a new manager a chance to prove himself than take one of the many candidates that seem to get linked with every job (Jones, O'Driscoll, Coppell, etc). He's got a nice platform to launch him from, and has stated his intent to take the club back to the big time. Hopefully he can do the business for us.
How an earth do Portsmouth continue to fund players such as Dave Kitson, Aaron Mokoena and Luke Varney after their recent financial crisis?
The wage structure at Fratton Park got a severe makeover following relegation, with a 10k cap placed on any new arrivals. This however didn't help those who didn't have relegation clauses in their contracts and players like Michael Brown, Richard Hughes and Tal Ben Haim continued to pick up Premiership wages on a Championship gate. The 10k cap was apparently ditched before the transfer window was closed, with Kitson and Lawrence reported earning close to double that. Now however I feel a much more sensible system is in place. I think Varney who replaced Nugent is on a lot less than Nuge would have been, and overall the wage bill has decreased by about 25 million since relegation. The size of our squad and lack of a reserve team also helps with this.
Who is the key man we should look out for on Saturday?
Luke Varney has been a menace in the last few weeks. Whether he plays on the wing or just off Kitson, he will chase everything and when he is on the ball he will run at defenders whenever he has a chance. Huseklepp has also been dangerous, although I'm not sure if he is suited to the style we play away from Fratton Park.
Where will you finish this season?
Our next 5 games our vital. They're all winnable and with the added boost a new manager can give us, if we can pick up 10+ points we will be right in the play-off mix. Anything less than 6 points will see us linger in the table while the others pull away. We are too strong to go down (touch wood!), but depending on our form in the run up to Christmas, we will either sink or swim afterwards.
We haven't won on the road since February, but some of our performances have been worthy of 3 points, and I think we on the verge of ending this record. My heart says a 1-0 win but my head says a 1-1 draw, with Watford going ahead on the stroke of half-time before an equaliser in the last half hour from Kitson.
Many thanks for your help Daniel, a very precise prediction - get down to the bookies!