We never win in front of the Sky cameras, do we? Well, tonight the Saddlers will have a chance to put that right with a home game against the latest team to try and fly in the face of economic reality, in the shape of Portsmouth. Quite how unrealistic football has become is shown by the previous manager, Michael Appleton, complaining when his playing budget was cut from 4.5 million. Four an a half million in the third tier? Just what planet are some of these people living on? Of course, we have already beaten them once this season, but, even then, there were quotes from Pompey fans about how poor there standard of players were, despite the fact that the likes of Howard, Harley, Mischelek, Gypes and Mc Cleod, when he was there, would walk into many squads in this Division. They have just lost McCleod to MK Dons, to be sure, so who do they bring in as a replacement? David Connolly, who cant come that cheap. The “big club because we’ve been in the top flight” attitude still seems to prevail, without any recognition of the fact that being in the top flight and trying to compete with the moneybags are at the root of the problems the club are in now. That and the fact that the FA and Football League’s “fit and proper person” tests just aren’t fit and proper for purpose. Oh, and appointing Harry Redknapp as Manager!
Dean Smith will have some choices to make tonight. Florent Cuvelier’s first start after injury lasted just eight minutes before he aggravated the same hamstring, Taylor has a groin strain and is unlikely to be fit (Benning seems the most likely to deputise) and Holden is still out, so Downing will continue to try and cement a permanent place in the centre of defence. He will, however, have the in form Fabien Brandy back after serving his one match suspension.
Portsmouth caretaker manager Guy Whittingham has one reinforcement, other than Connolly, as striker Paul Benson returns to the squad after missing the defeat against his parent club, Swindon, due to the terms of his loan agreement.
Defensive due Ricardo Rocha and Gabor Gyepes are both rated as unlikely to play, while midfielder Brian Howard is also struggling with his groin injury.
Portsmouth have lost their last three games, to Yeovil and Crawley at home, culminating in a 0 – 5 capitulation against Swindon last week, a defeat which saw them slip back into the bottom four. They are looking doomed already, should the ten point deduction for coming out of administration happen before the end of the season. Their last win actually came back in October at home to Shrewsbury, although they got a couple of creditable draws just after that. With the Saddlers having won three of the last four, you would think that we would be firm favourites, but we never win in front of the Sky cameras, or do we?