View from the South Stand - Portsmouth 13/08/11
Brighton and Hove Albion hit the road for the first time
this season for a Championship fixure against south coast
rivals Portmouth at Fratton Park.
We asked Bill Gillon from
Online, to answer some questions for us.
16th place finish last time around. What was the general
consensus among Portsmouth fans about that?
Considering the administration issues, lack of money and
threadbare squad, I think most fans were pretty pleased
with us securing a mid-table finish and safety long before
the end of the season, it was pretty much a minor miracle
in my opinion. Cotterill didn't have much to play with during
the season and, whilst our first eleven was competitive,
there was nothing really behind that, so I don't think we
were ever going to be challenging for the play-offs, or
anything like that, so a solid mid-table finish, in the
circumstances, was more than acceptable.
You've got another set of new owners. Will these guys
be any different to their recent predecesors and what
does it mean for your expectations for this season?
The new owners, Convers Sports Initiatives, seem to be
looking to do things the right way, making some money
available and being sensible. They have stated that the
want to treat the club as a sensible business, are in
it for the long term and want to make the club successful.
All the right noises basically but, as always, actions
will speak louder than words. First impressions are good
for me, we've spent a bit of money in this window so far
and have had a sizeable offer for Martin Paterson of Burnley
turned down, so it's obvious they are making transfer
funds available even though we still need more bodies
through the door, which is a definite issue. Considering
there's a lot of rebuilding still to be done, I think
most fans will settle for another mid-table finish this
season, with maybe a push for the play-offs more realistic
for next season.
Cotterill became an extremely popular player for Brighton
despite the fact he only had a brief spell on loan at
the Goldstone. What's the Pompey fans view on him as a
think it's fair to say that views are split. As I said
earlier, I think most fans will accept he did a job which
needed to be done last season and did it well, keeping
us up with something to spare. This season will be a telling
one though, and our recent defeat in the Carling Cup to
Barnet didn't go down too well in general, especially
as Cotterill decided to only put three players on the
bench and didn't give some of our talented academy youngsters
a run out, which a lot of fans were calling for. Our recent
lack of success in the transfer market is also attracting
some comments against Cotterill, although I think personally
the fault for that lies elsewhere. Most of all though,
some fans are expressing concern about his more direct
style of play, which isn't too pretty at times. We'll
see how things go there, and whether that changes once
he has a more flexible squad to chose from but, for now,
I think in general he's seen as having done a job but
it's time to show what you can really do now.
You've been quite busy in the transfer market. Who are
the key men for Albion fans to look out for on Saturday?
we have been busy in the market, we still really need
some numbers added to the squad. We started the transfer
window with only eight confirmed contracted players and,
whilst we have brought in a handful to add to that, so
can name a team and players on the bench, that is basically
it. We need a minimum of five players before the end of
the window (or as soon as possible after that if we get
one or two loans in as well) and, preferably, a couple
on top of that. David Norris will be a key man for us,
we've brought him in from Ipswich and he's already proving
himself as the new engine of the team, he'll be vital
as the season goes on. Luke Varney is also proving a danger
from out wide but up front is a concern as we only really
have Dave Kitson up there, who can't play up front on
his own, with a 78-year old Kanu only able to come off
the bench in the later part of the game nowadays. Watch
out though for our young Aussie winger, Ryan Williams,
who will come off the bench at some point, he's making
a good impression.
Most people seem to point at Pompey's recent financial
woes as being a result of signing players they couldn't
afford thanks to the succession of owners. Was that really
the case, and if so was winning the FA Cup worth the financial
meltdown that happened?
try to keep this as short as I can.....
Whilst there's no doubt that we overspent, I still say
that, in reality, we didn't do anything which a lot of
other clubs (eg. Bolton, West Ham, plus most of the clubs
in the Premiership to be honest) aren't doing. Where we
originally fell down was that our then owner, Sacha Gaydamak,
withdrew his funding because of 'outside concerns', so
we couldn't service our debts. Now, what those concerns
where isn't probably something to be discussed in public,
but that, of course, started our issues. Unfortunately,
that then led to the absolute farce over the last couple
of season with owners such as Sulaiman Al Fahim, the mysterious
Ali Al Faraj and the reluctant owner Balram Chainrai.
What has happened at Pompey has been nothing short of
a criminal farce, we proved victims of a game which was
being played by various unscrupulous money men, and the
club nearly went under because of it. That can never happen
again, and I'm sure the various businesses who lost money
through the failings of others will say the same thing
because that was unforgiveable. I've been involved in
fans meetings, talked to people through time, taken part
in protests, I could write a novel about what has happened
at Fratton over the last two years or so.
Was the Cup win worth it? I stood at Wembley in tears
as we lifted the Cup, it was something I never thought
I'd see and that feeling would be difficult to swap. However,
if you push me, I'd have settled for seasons of financial
stability, proper development of the club both on the
field and in the wider community, basically the way West
Brom have approached things. What happened to us though
was something which you just don't expect though, to the
extent which took place, but it's made us fans much more
All of the teams along the South Coast have now moved
into new homes bar Portsmouth. Why has it proven so hard
to replace Fratton Park and what's the latest on a potential
more than possible to develop Fratton Park, it just needs
somebody with the money to come in and do it. The current
stadium could be turned, developed and the capacity increased
to between 28,000-35,000 if necessary, the plans are there,
it's feasible, the council are agreeable, we own the stadium,
it's all ready to go. Sacha Gaydamak still owns the land
around the stadium, but an agreement on that can be reached
as far as I am aware so, as mentioned, it just needs somebody
with money to come in and actually do it. That's where
we've been lacking over the last few seasons. Milan Mandarc,
before he left, stood beside a JCB as he heralded the
start of the stadium development, but Milan being Milan
was only ever going to sell the club on for a nice profit.
Since then, owners have come in, different plans have
been drawn up for various incredible stadiums, none have
come to fruition. Fans, in general, would rather Fratton
was redeveloped and we stayed in the area we're in, and
I think that's what will happen and, in reality, all we
actually need. Whether Convers will be the people to do
that, we shall see in time. I think that's part of their
plan, but one which is part of the future, it's a matter
of getting the club back on a solid footing first.
How much do you know about the current Albion side?
I don't know too much about the players in the actual
squad, but it's obvious that you've got a good team going
down there and Gus Poyet is building something which has
obviously got potential, and you can't go wrong with a
Bergkamp and a Lua-Lua in your squad. Obviously, the big
signing for you over the summer was Craig Mackail-Smith,
which was a big coup considering he was being linked with
one or two Premiership clubs, how did you pull that one
off? Your chairman, Tony Bloom, seems to be doing wonders
for the team (being a bit of a poker player and fan, am
pretty pleased for Tony as well).
Obviously your big rivals are Southampton and ours are
Palace, but a fair few Brighton fans have a dislike for
Pompey. What's the feeling like towards us down there?
I've always liked Brighton, I have to admit, and am delighted
that you've finally got your new stadium after the years
of struggle. The new ground looks fantastic, I had a look
at the BBC report on it, and full credit to the people
who are responsible for that. In general, I think our
fans see Brighton, obviously, as rivals and one of the
local derbies, but it's more of a 'friendly' rivalry compared
to the one with Southampton (which, personally, I could
do without as I hate the atmosphere around it). As with
all things, with us both being south coast teams, you're
always going to get opposition fans who dislike you but,
by and large, as I said I think it's more of a friendly
rivalry with Brighton and, from what I have seen and read
amongst our fans, I think there's a general feeling that
it's good to see you finally on the right track.
Who do you think are likely to be the main contenders
for promotion and relegation in the Championship this
did a season preview before the first round of games.
Obviously, you've got the big spenders such as West Ham
and Leicester for whom anything less than promotion will
be seen as a failure (and, potentially, for West Ham would
be seen as financial disaster). For the play-offs, I've
forecast Nottingham Forest, Ipswich, Reading and Cardiff,
who are all good sides, with talented players and should
do well over this season. The thing is though, this is
probably the most competitive Championship for years,
outside the top two or three you could basically stick
a pin in to see who could be in with play-off chances,
any team could really beat any other.
For the relegation places, I plump for Coventry, Watford
and Peterborough, although Doncaster could struggle now
they've lost Billy Sharp for a time (though they do have
Sean O'Driscoll in charge, who I really rate as a manager).
For info, I've got us finishing in tenth (assuming we
actually get some more players in) and Brighton finishing
not far behind in twelfth, with my comments regarding
the Seagulls being "Blasted through League One last
season, and they come into this season on a wave of optimism
with the long awaited move to their new ground which,
indeed, looks fantastic and extremely well designed. Saying
that, Im sure the Seagulls fans will be looking
to consolidate this season (although Norwich fans were
probably saying the same thing a year ago) and the purchase
of Craig Mickail-Smith was a surprising recruitment, although
obviously a welcome one. Will be interesting to see how
they go this season with the move to Falmer". Hope
they were fair?
What do you think the score will be on Saturday?
to admit, I'd settle now for a draw. We're still short
of players and a fully flexible squad, and are fairly
limited still on how we can set up, especially up front.
Even though we scored two against Middlesbrough, we'll
struggle to score goals just now and, with Brighton being
on a good run, then I know it will be a difficult game.
The players are making noises about wanting to make amends
for the performance against Barnet in midweek, so we shall
see. I'll go for a 1-1 draw but, whatever happens, hope
we all have a good game and enjoyable day! Good luck for
the rest of the season.
Many thanks to Bill
for his insight into the forthcoming fixture