Portsmouth - Manchester United

Pompey made the disaster start of the season. Returned back with away win against Wolverhampton 1-0 and a draw also on the road vs. fellow strugglers Hull. After that, two 4-0 wins at home (Stoke and Wigan in Cup) and again two defeats on the road. In last round vs. Stoke away, Kevin-Prince Boateng missed the penalty at the start of the game and tight match finished with another defeat (0-1). After the game, Paul Hart got fired. Few reasons why I think it was a mistake. First, squad simply hasn’t enough quality and even top manager couldn’t do better. Hart also made some kind of family atmosphere and players are in shock because his departure. His replacement is Avram Grant. When he was appointed in Chelsea, players started the riot because his old fashioned training and team needed some time to adjust to his way of work (some players never accepted him as a man in charge). Can’t see why in Portsmouth this should be better. And last, but not the least, first game is against furious United. Also, should be mentioned, Grant will be officially appointed after the game, caretaker will lead the team. First goalie, David James, suffered an injury during the warming-up for game against Stoke and will miss again. His place will take a substitute, Jamie Ashdown. Papa Bouba Diop, John Utaka and Steve Finnan are all battling to be fit.

After CSKA finished his game against Wolfsburg and won 2-1, Sir Alex changed the team and sent a bunch of youngsters to bring him a point and first place in the group, counting on opponent’s lack of motivation. But, the painful truth is European competition isn’t Carling Cup, Turkish side defeated United and made of them a main story in Britain. Well, history learns us Man.Utd. are the most dangerous when their dignity is hurt. I expect their response and Ferguson surely will send the hard artillery on the pitch. No European game next week and no reason for resting players and calculation. This game should be a message to Chelsea (who btw. already have a surplus of five points). Only Rio Ferdinand and John O'Shea, beside Hargreaves, are confirmed missings. Evans, Fabio and Berbatov (who should appeared against Besiktas) will have a late fitness test.

I would write-off the new manager effect here, ‘cause the players are not the least pleased with that. Portsmouth advantages will be smaller pitch (as always) where they create chances easier than on the road and maybe United’s defense line. I think it will be far from enough to resist from visitors’ revenge. I’m little cautious about the stake just because Wes Brown and his habit to make stupidities. However, Pompey look just like a victim of bad circumstances. United's win with a handicap.


Very probably one more pick before the kick-off in England.

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