Let’s see who has local bragging rights in May

112202-726_WEST_HAM_SR_10/9/11'Action from  West Ham United vs Pompey at Upton Park.'Luke Varney scores the opening goal.''Picture:Steve Reid 112202-726
112202-726_WEST_HAM_SR_10/9/11'Action from West Ham United vs Pompey at Upton Park.'Luke Varney scores the opening goal.''Picture:Steve Reid 112202-726
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The south coast bragging rights lie elsewhere at the moment.

Pompey fans are having to suck up the wind-ups and crowing in the borderline offices and factory floors as their local rivals get off to fliers in this season’s Championship.

The Pompey football forums and message boards are getting visits aplenty from fans down the road keen to revel in their elevated league status.

But the Fratton faithful shouldn’t be shifting too uncomfortably at the reading the Championship table makes at present.

The make-up of the standings in the middle of September rarely bares any resemblance to how it will appear in the final reckoning.

Seeing Brighton leading the way six games in may have surprised a few people.

Those who saw the Seagulls dump Pompey out of the FA Cup back in January knew they were a club on the rise, however.

With their financial backing and boost to the coffers that moving to an impressive new home brings, it was always likely they would be contenders this term.

Similarly so, for our friends 20 miles west along the M27, although it is a mite surprising to have seen them drop just the three points so far.

A look around the table, though, suggests there will be plenty of jostling for position before the natural order is taken up.

Last year’s play-off finalists Reading are currently languishing in the bottom three, while relegated Carling Cup winners Birmingham were struggling near the foot of the table prior to their victory over Millwall on Sunday.

Ipswich were being touted for great things this season by many but are four places below Steve Cotterill’s men, and Leicester, who were pre-season favourites for the title, are just two points better off than Pompey.

The Blues’ opening has been steady rather than spectacular as they currently sit in 14th.

Performances have fluctuated but have told of a promise which lies ahead.

Circumstances have dictated that Pompey are a work in progress.

That may not go down well in all quarters, but nine new faces means the unit will become more cohesive as the season progresses.

What we have seen so far is a side with enough quality in its ranks – at this level – to be a problem for any opponent.

And that has been in an opening where they have met four of the current top six who have shown good early-season form.

The match against Brighton last month probably told us a lot about where Pompey stand.

The team were not at their best for 90 minutes but started impressively, had their moments in between and warranted a return from the game against the early pacesetters.

The steady stream of fans who made their way up to Cotterill and told him just that afterwards was enough to other him some comfort in the wake of that home defeat.

And there has been reasons for encouragement since – particularly the 90 minutes against Reading and large parts of the team’s performance at West Ham.

There are gaps, but there is finally a look of a proper Championship squad about Pompey right now.

The ambitions of Southampton, Pompey and Brighton probably amount to the same thing this season.

It’s not being shouted from rooftops by Cotterill, but a top-six finish is his quiet ambition.

The fact that target is echoed along the south coast makes for some healthy local rivalry for the first time in years.

The spice it adds to this Championship campaign is no bad thing.

Pompey’s local foes may be in the box seat right now in that quest, and aren’t going to be shy in highlighting that, either, but there’s a long way to go to the finish line, yet.