Date: 2nd September 2008 at 8:11am
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I could not wait for the midnight hour, and just beyond – as past history has shown deals can sneak under the radar without us knowing for a while – as it was a tense day on Monday with us not really knowing who would leave, or for how much, or even how little!

Thankfully we got through the day without any major problems though.

We managed to offload a couple of players, but also got a couple in – Nadir Belhadj had been linked with us all summer, so his loan signing was not really a surprise was it and this should be a good one, although I am still not quite sure where he will play – if at all? Jon Stewart – who is what I have to say really, as to be honest I have never heard of the fella, but in our current financial predicament we would not have spent a huge amount on the keepers wages, nor to be fair would we have got him in if he did not have something about him. Free agent when signed, little to lose really.

In an ideal world we could have done with shifting some fringe players, but then we would have been well and truly down to the ‘bare bones’, so it was an almost no win situation in some cases. But nothing was doing was it, so these have lived to fight another day. Maybe this will prove a defining moment in some of their careers at Fratton? Chances are it will not but you never know…

Losing Jean-Francois Christophe to Southend on loan – for a month – and Martin Cranie to Charlton on loan – for the season – could have been far worse, so I will settle for this as our dealings going out, as it could have been far worse, and for a while I feared it might!

I was enjoying the transfer window in the early days, weeks and even months but then things just got totally out of control – ‘links’ to players were becoming ridiculous, and very tedious even. It became obvious that we did not have a great deal of money, but still these came, as did the ‘talk’ from Pompey. All in all, although I would clearly have preferred to have kept at least one of the players that went – Pedro Mendes – I am ultimately happy with how the summer went… The worst thing that happened for us came right at the very start of the summer, probably right at the tail end of last season – the whole ‘we will sign 3 top class footballers, yet not lose any of our best players’ speech from Peter Storrie!

Whilst I still think that the fella maybe gets a rough ride from some quarters, complete and utter tosh – as this mostly proved in the end – is what got most peoples back up with him here, and it is this type of thing that does not help him does it. So it as this, and things like this that were constantly used by many as a weapon to beat him and Portsmouth football club with. Maybe we should not have been ‘taken in by this talk’, but he made himself convincing! In all honesty we had to be realistic, and after a couple of weeks of hype I think it was clear this could not actually happen as we are not a bottomless pit of money! This said, in all fairness we have not really had a bad summer have we? We have signed some pretty good players, some absolutely fantastic players – albeit some only on loan – so can we really, take a real close and hard look, be that unhappy with our lot?

In an ideal world we could have done with getting another central midfielder in I feel as we could be left light if our main players miss out – especially when using 3 in the middle, so we could have ideally done without selling a certain Portuguese one – who I see is back in the national squad again and scored a belter at the weekend! – but there you go…

Our main priority yesterday was to keep the majority of our squad in tact, to keep the wolves from the door as it were, at least until January – and we managed this.

Now we have a good few months were we can concentrate purely on football, and ‘if’ we get this right we can still have a fantastic season and ‘if’ we get this right in the cups we can keep on advancing in them, which will generate more money and interest in Portsmouth football club.

Of course, just because the transfer window has closed this does not mean we cannot, or will not sign anyone else!

Clearly ‘the best’ players – on the whole – have now been snapped up, but with the world being a very, very big place with plenty of parts of it containing footballers that remain unattached, so free agents could still arrive including a certain fantastic Ghanaian international by the name of Stephen Appiah! He was a free agent yesterday, he could remain this today, tomorrow, next week or next month – so as long as this remains the case we still have the chance of signing him, and if we can convince him that ‘Fratton is the place for him’, if he can convince us ‘he is fully fit and over his injury problems’ and if ‘we want him’ – which we appear to – he could sign anytime, and if he did I would be absolutely delighted!

Ok, maybe not ideal and certainly not the player he was, but I also noticed that Alexei Smertin was released by Fulham yesterday – this is another example of a free agent, so it will cause us no harm to get these free agents in and take a look at them in a trial period will it? If they do ok then we offer them something, if they agree we have little to lose, if not so be it.

So, all in all I am delighted with how Monday went and to be honest pretty pleased with how the summer transfer window went on the whole, as although we have lost a few players we have also brought some in and I still think that we are more than good enough to challenge most teams in this league, have enough quality in our squad – so long as we do not get hit with a mass of injuries or suspensions – and have some players that are much better than we might suspect, so it is time to make the most of the squad we have and use most people, as the vast majority can come in and would do a job for us.

Now we have the distraction of the transfer window out of the way it is time for us to relax, unwind and enjoy the football again and I still honestly believe this will be good football and we are still more than capable of challenging for a place in the top 10 for sure, to be honest the top 6 is not out of reach and despite the money they have, and will continue to spend, we can, and I think will, finish ahead of Citeh!

The next 5 months or are going to be a crucial period for Pompey – if we can be in and around the top 6 come January, hopefully this will be enough to ensure we do not have to sell our main players in January, and if anything if we can dig really deep to ensure that we end the season strongly – and if we did the world could quite literally be our lobster…


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