You have to feel sorry for Paul Hart. His strained features, weathered by a torrid summer and a record breakingly rubbish start to the season, now carries a look of permanent bewilderment at what is happening to the club. I thought he was going to burst into tears at the final whistle on Saturday as defeat to Everton left them rock bottom of the Premier League with seven defeats from seven games.
A sign of just how badly things have gone wrong for Pompey since their 2008 Cup win was the presence of only one outfield player at Fratton Park on Saturday who also walked out at Wembley 16 months ago – Sylvan Distin, now of Everton.
But apart from having to deal with fire-sales and boardroom upheaval Hart has also been dealt huge doses of bad luck. Pompey were desperately unlucky on Saturday, as their ragtag bunch of cast offs, free transfers and loanees mustered a brave fightback against Everton but just couldn’t put the ball in the net.
They now have the unwarranted record of having the worst Premier league start for 79 years, with only Liverpool 100 years ago escaping the drop after losing their first seven.
Reasons for optimism? Well I’m sure they will play better this season and lose, great goalkeeping, poor finishing and the with of the cross bar were at play on Saturday. Plus their new owner Dr Sulamin Al-Fahim has promised to pump £50 million into the club.
Reasons for despair?
Even a run of title chasing proportions would struggle to get them out of the hole they found themselves in. The £50 million promise was made at a fans forum Al Fahim originally cancelled, but only turned up to in order to placate the increasingly agitated Pompey fans, this pledge sounds like a handy sound byte to further satisfy the baying hordes. Even even if it bears fruit, maybe too little too late.
The whole situation has the whiff of Leeds United about it. Already the scribes are contrasting Pompey’s plight to the “highs” of 2008 and matches at Wembley and against Milan in Europe. The dream was chased, found and lost, just like Leeds, who were away at MK Dons on Saturday.
But Pompey fans need not look that far away to gain an insight into what may lie ahead – South Coast rivals Southampton, Cup Finalists in 2003 and Premier League opposition in 2005, are now rooted to the bottom of League One.