Date: 23rd April 2009 at 8:06am
Written by:

Pompey might have been beaten at Old Trafford last night, and to be fair but for a string of saves by David James it could have been a battering, but even so we come away from the game with our heads held high.

We can look at the positives from it, as Paul Hart did when talking to sky sports after the game. These are his thoughts, with some of my own too…

Hart on the 1st half
‘I think in the first half we were a little bit reticent and were sort of pussy-footing around a bit.

‘We were lucky to come in 1-0 down as our keeper’s made some fantastic saves, and we had a bit of luck and some good defending.’

We actually started the game the brighter of the sides but Manyoo soon changed this and then we were quiet for too long, the earlyish setback of a goal clearly did not help and they really should have been out of sight by half time, which but for England’s no.1 and some good defending we would have been.

Getting through to the break at 1-0 down always gave us a chance, ‘if’ we could have gone in at 0-0 more so, but it was not to be…

Hart on the 2nd half
‘In the second-half I thought we started well, and I thought at times we had an awful lot of control of the game and maybe could have pulled one back.

‘We put a good shift in and we made it very difficult for Manchester United, who are an extremely good team.’

There were times when we dominated the half, but Manyoo still had chances, which had they taken would have killed the game off – as it was, not taking them always gave us help. We just could not quite get the final pass right, or get enough support up to help Peter Crouch, who was excellent again.

Hart on our progress
‘It’s the second game we’ve lost I think in eight games and the other one was Chelsea. We did pretty well in that one as well and I think the second-half performance we can take an awful lot of positives from.

‘We started to make good progress, had good build-ups and retained the ball a bit better in the second-half. On another day, we may have got something.’

To be fair to Hart, who has taken some stick, we have started to look like we are willing to play a little more football over the last couple of games – the win at the weekend would have lifted some of the pressure and this performance would also have helped boost morale even more.

Against the sides in and around us though, this is where we need to be more adventurous and if we do this against Newcastle – adding the extra support attacking wise – then we will come away from that game with something, quite possibly all 3pts that would leave us almost certainly safe, which we should be now anyway to be honest…

Hart on safety, or not…
‘We still need some points. How close I don’t know, but we’re certainly not close enough to start thinking we’re close.’

As said above, I do think we are just about safe now – as long as you have teams between yourself and the bottom 3, not to mention points, it gives you that cushion. This is not a cushion that can be taken lightly though.

Again as also said above, we can all but secure that safety on Monday, whilst putting another nail in Newcastle’s coffin – we will not go gun-ho, but a similar display to the one against Manyoo, certainly in the 2nd half, and we can do them!

Hart on Nugent’s injury
‘He’s got a dead leg and is pretty sore, but we’ve got a few extra days to Monday, so hopefully he’ll be recovered.’

Once again, like everyone else to be fair, Dave Nugent put in a fine shift – battling through a dead leg for a large amount of the 1st half, so it is important to have him fit again for Monday, even if I am now starting to think more and more we are wasting him in the wide role.

It is just such a shame that most of his good work was again done in our own half, when really we want it to be in the attacking half!

The sooner we can secure safety the better, then hopefully he can be given a couple of games as an out and our striker alongside the likes of Crouch. The signs are there this could be a successful pairing, so if they were played as a strike pairing it would be good to see.

Rug’s final thoughts
My final thoughts on this game are, ‘I am glad it is done!’ This is one that I feared we might be spanked in and this would do serious damage to our goal difference – whilst that could have been the case given the amount of clear-cut chances Manyoo had it was not. This is not to say it was a game that I had gone into ‘accepting defeat’, I never have and never will.

We, as a club and the fans, can hold out heads high though as we were beaten but not disgraced – but for a bit more luck, ok we might have had enough defensively, that last ball just reaching the target and a little more attacking support we ‘could’ have got something.

I cannot finish without giving special mention to the Pompey fans, who were fantastic all night. It is just a shame that the brilliance of the 700-800 or so Pompey fans was made to sound less impressive by the sky sports sound crew, who did not really do us the justice we deserved. Whilst you could get this it was not as good as it could have been and they gave the Manyoo lot far more than they deserved! Clearly the microphones were cranked up, and placed as close to the ‘noisy’ Manyoo areas as they could be…


Join the Vital Pompey Debate