Manchester United - Portsmouth - One Of The Bogey Teams
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Portsmouth - One Of The Bogey Teams

The real problem of tonight is not that half of the squad is still out. After all, Tevez is back while Hargreaves and Anderson could also play some part. We'll have to cope without Carrick, Nani, Ronaldo, Park and Saha though...

But it's not the main problem. Our slow start, the lacklustre performance against Newcastle is bad enough but it does not really concern me ahead of tonight's game. I'm not even worried by the fact that Rooney is obviously a million miles away from full fitness. But we could cope with that.

What is most distressing that all these things are made worse by the fact that Pompey are our bogey team. Usually, you can say that when United play really well, they win. There are very few clubs who can regularly get away despite being outplayed by us: namely, only two, Blackburn and Portsmouth. Middlesbrough are the third bogey team but we very rarely play well at the Riverside.

But back to Portsmouth. In recent years, it seems like whatever we do we end up losing or drawing at Fratton Park. Our title bid in 2007 was almost derailed by them: a 2-1 victory, memorable for Rio's bizarre own goal... something like that happens only at Fratton Park.

Calamity James got his name for a reason - yet I cannot remember a single goalkeeping clanger from him against United. More often, in true Brad Friedel manner, he catches the kitchen sink as well against us. That April 2007 game was a prime example or I could cite last season's FA Cup game when he made some saves he's clearly not capable of against any other team.

There was the Community Shield. Pompey were outplayed to an extent that was embarassing, they barely managed to string two passes together, they were battered. And the result? 0-0. Why? I do not know. Maybe sinister, supernatural forces were at work. And only those can explain their Old Trafford victory of last season which was, to be honest, daylight robbery.

Last season started similar to this one: a hopelessly depleted squad, deprived of its strikers, toiled to a home draw against a team that set out to defend with ten men at Old Trafford. Then we had to visit Fratton Park.

That game started brilliantly, with Paul Scholes' trademark goal. And we simply overran Portsmouth, created chances and of course failed to put them away. Still, nothing indicated an equaliser but then, out of the blue, Benjani, who is a hopeless finisher but always seems to be lethal against United, put one away.

The rest of the match was increasinly desperate one-way traffic but Tevez, Scholes, Giggs and co. missed the biggest chances and had to be content with a disappointing draw in a game they should have won by three or four clear goals.

The squad was similarly depleted like what we'll have today (or like what we had at the Community Shield) and if the performance will be of the same quality then I won't have too many complaints. The result, though, is another thing: you can never know against Portsmouth. Lady Luck seems to be in love with them but only when they play United.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday August 25 2008

Time: 4:04PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Yes, Portsmouth, much like Middlesbrough, Blackburn and (more recently at least) West Ham and Man City have the annoying ability to beat (or at least draw with) us, whatever. At home we're not too bad (last season's FA Cup excluded) but at Fratton Park, nothing seems to go our way. Here's hoping it changes quick (starting with tonight).
Man utd champions
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25/08/2008 16:43:00

Interestingly, Chelsea have always been known to hold us to draws or even beat us, even back in the days when they weren't challenging for titles. We have changed that a little in recent seasons, but they still seem to have the knack of playing worse than us, yet coming away with the win. But I'm sure teams such as Fulham, Everton, Liverpool, and especially Aston Villa, have the same such feelings about us, as we beat them with regularity.
Man utd champions
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25/08/2008 16:47:00

Welcome to the Fortress that is Fratton Park. Only Chelsea out of the 'top four' have won here in the last two years!!
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25/08/2008 17:41:00

Thnaks for cheering me up, eastneydave!
Man utd champions
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25/08/2008 17:55:00

How dare you call us a bogey tesm? We're simply better than you!
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25/08/2008 19:23:00

YES!!!!! I really didnt think we would get the win tonight. We had so much enregy in our team; Rooney, Tevez, Fletcher, Anderson and Evra. And how about Vidic......*****in rock! Its weired but I feel really good after this win. Liek the same feeling I get when we beat one of the top 4.
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25/08/2008 21:55:00

I wouldn't say that merlin, not by a long stretch.
Man utd champions
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26/08/2008 08:53:00

Finally, Finally, FINALLY, we manage to actually win at Fratton Park for what seems like ages. And what's more, we played well with it. I have to say, though, Portsmouth were surprisingly disappointing. Still, it was a good result for us, one we fully deserved.
Man utd champions
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26/08/2008 08:55:00

We do seem to be slowly getting rid of our bogey teams, though (here's hoping). We've got our first win at Fratton Park in years last night; in recent seasons, we have managed to beat Middlesbrough (2 wins - 1 league, 1 fa cup, 1 draw in 2006/07 and last year, we beat them resoundingly at home, and got a draw there) so although we do tend to drop points, it's far from the 4-1 thrashing we got a few years back. Blackburn, too, we do seem to have improved against: in 2006/07 we got two wins, whereas before (was it 2004/05 or 2005/06?) we lost twice, home and away. And last season, we won at home, and so relieved were we at Tevez's late equaliser, it almost felt like we'd won anyway. And West Ham we finally got out of the way with a 4-1 win last season. Man City never used to present problems for us (particularly at home) so hopefully that's just a blip. And as for Chelsea, we have actually beaten them on occasions in recent seasons, though it's generally been close, and as they say, what goes aroudn comes around. They've got to lose at home sometime.
Man utd champions
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26/08/2008 09:01:00

The sooner, the better - the hype surrounding them is sickening, especially considering that they have only added a 31-year-old midfielder who is way past his best and an unproven right back. Their lack of options up front is even more obvious than in our case yet everyone is talking about them as the perfect team. Why, I do not know.
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26/08/2008 19:33:00

very lucky to beat pompey it will be difficult this year to will the perm this season for MU
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28/08/2008 16:56:00


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