It’s been three seasons since anyone broke the dominance of the ‘big four’ in the Premier League, but after' establishing themselves in the top flight in the last five seasons Portsmouth could be about to' smash that pattern.
Under the shrewd guidance of boss Harry Redknapp, Pompey have made progress in their last three campaigns – finishing 17th in 2005/06, ninth in 2006/07 and eighth last term – earning themselves a place in Europe. The men from Fratton Park put on some scintillating displays last' season in the Premier League as well as going all the way in the FA Cup with glory at Wembley.
Redknapp certainly knows how to wheel and deal in the transfer market and his ability to gel a side together is second to none. The former West Ham chief knows that he must add to his squad this season with the rigours of the UEFA Cup on the agenda and you can guarantee he will only add quality to his ranks.
Squad players Glen Little (free) and Ben Sahar (loan) have arrived from Reading and Chelsea respectively to bolster the numbers, while Peter Crouch has arrived from Liverpool. Crouch looks destined to grab a bag full of goals for the men from the south coast this season and the £11million man’s potential partnership with England colleague Jermain Defoe looks exciting.
It will prove to be a terrific signing for Portsmouth after Crouch failed to hold down a regular first-team berth at Anfield. His goals could help fire Portsmouth to within striking distance of the traditional top four – Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.
‘Harry’ is of course still on the lookout for new signings and Spurs defender Younes Kaboul has been heavily linked with a move south.
“We are always looking to improve and we will see where we go – we keep looking around. “If you are competing in the UEFA Cup as well, there are a lot of matches. We need strength in depth,” said Redknapp.
Pompey were 19 points adrift of fourth-placed Liverpool last season, but Crouch and Defoe could get the goals to make a charge for a place in the Champions League. They are quoted at' Premier League odds of 14.0 to finish in the top four with Spurs the 6.4 favourites – if you forget the established top quartet.
It’s not an easy start for Harry’s boys though and they won’t appear in too' many punters’ Premier League bets on August 17 when they face an opening game away at Chelsea.
By Phil Tomlinson