Perspective is key in derby heat

Pompey boss Michael Appleton can convince any remaining doubters with a win over Southampton
Pompey boss Michael Appleton can convince any remaining doubters with a win over Southampton
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For a new manager, it’s the ideal opportunity to win over those who have yet to be totally convinced.

Michael Appleton has won friends since his appointment – and the win at Burnley went a long way to changing the opinions of those who greeted his arrival with a groan.

Beat Southampton, however, and it will be back slaps all round and a universal acceptance that ‘he’s Pompey.’

Few fixtures create the kind of heated debate as this derby.

While some of the most hardened Blues fans were quite happy to see their nearest neighbours plying their trade in the leagues below for the past six years, others were glad to see them back after their promotion last season.

After all, it at least means we get to see the two teams collide twice this term.

But there will be some who take the rivalry too far and will effectively draw battle lines to supposedly defend their club’s honour.

To the more fair-minded – those football fans who have friends and colleagues at both ends of the M27 – it’s simply an opportunity for banter without a threat of violence.

Maybe it’s a sad reflection that two mates who support the rival clubs cannot even travel to the game together or enjoy a pint afterwards regardless of the result, even if they had no intention of sitting next to each other inside Fratton Park.

Some speak of a hatred that festers between the two clubs and, of course, both teams desperately want to win.

Perhaps it’s naive to suggest that the rivalry is all well and good – and those of us from the area know all about it – but hate and violence is something else that simply isn’t necessary when it’s a football match.

Regardless of the result – and you can bet your bottom dollar that some sort of controversy will have a bearing on the match – it’s worth remembering that life returns to normality on Monday.

But hopefully, with just a bit of gentle stick for the sheepish-looking Saints fan trying to keep his head down.