Date: 12th September 2006 at 5:07pm
Written by:

Off the back of our return to the top flight in 2003 Pompey would become most fans favourite second team. A slip in recent times has seen us fall in the popularity stakes but we’re on the up again!

Pompey’s battling displays and our never say die attitude during the 2003/04 season, with us also being under the guidance of the hugely popular Harry Redknapp, always a man people love to watch (his twitchy mannerisms can make interesting viewing alone!) and hear from, some of his one liners such as “I sorted out the formation last night lying in bed with the wife. When your husband’s as ugly as me, you’d only want to talk football” are legendary.

The already mentioned reasons, not to mention the fans support would see us claimed as most fans favourite second team. Such fans performances like the one in the 5-1 Quarter Final FA Cup defeat by Arsenal at Fratton Park would only enhance our profile, seeing Thierry Henry hail our fans. We even saw him parading around Fratton with a Pompey shirt on (hence the selecting this glorious site for the articles image) if only?

Our popularity would continue for the majority of the 2004/05 season; however the arrival of Yugoslav Velimir Zajec in November 2004 as Director of Football, and the subsequent departure of Redknapp over this instalment and other issues, along with most notably the influx of below par Greek footballers not to mention a mediocre end to that season would see our popularity dwindle.

The first half of the 2005/06 season would see our popularity at it’s lowest. The fans however would still rightly be praised for our constant performance but our on field displays under Frenchman Alain Perrin, who had arrived in April 2005 with Zajec returning upstairs, would be poor. Our exciting brand of hard grafting, gutsy, yet often quality showings had faded. We would ship goals regularly and often play poor football under Perrin.

Popular stars such as Patrick Berger, Steve Stone and the instrumental Arjan De Zeeuw would be released, only to be replaced on the whole with below average foreign imports. Laurent Robert’s arrival brought some short term optimism, but this would be short lived as he constantly disrupted the side before his departure.

With Perrin sacked in November 2005 and Zajec moving on, due to suffering from ill health, thought to be motor neuron disease (often referred to as Lou Gehrigs disease, especially by our American friends) Redknapp would return in December, bringing with him renewed optimism both with most of our own, and other fans.

It took a while but the new signings eventually gelled and our never say die attitude would return and see us rocketing back up the popularity stakes as we performed what surely must go down as the greatest ever escape from relegation?

Building on last season’s improvement coupled with our start to the 2006/07 season, with the way we are playing and the players we have signed our popularity can only grown once again. Only our own egos could ruin this, although knowing the Pompey folk as I do we are a modest bunch so we`ll not get carried away?

A lot of you may well not care if we are popular or not, but it is always nice to know that fellow supporters admire your club and fans. No matter how much people protest to the contrary nobody likes being unpopular.

In a poll conducted in Nuts Magazine last month we were languishing in 9th place with 5% of the vote, seeing us below an almost unheard of thing a few years ago an 8th placed Manchester United! This is how the full table would read

Liverpool 15%
West Ham United 10%
Wigan Athletic 9%
Newcastle 8.5%
Tottenham Hotspur 7%
Bolton 7%
Charlton 6%
Manchester United 6%
Portsmouth 5%
Manchester City 4%
Watford 3.5%
Reading 3.5%
Everton 3%
Blackburn 3%
Fulham 3%
Sheffield United 2.5%
Middlesbrough 2.5%
Chelsea 2%
Arsenal 1.5%
Aston Villa 1%