What are Pompey really aiming for?

Pompey fans have all had enough of being in English football's gutter.

Wednesday, 2nd November 2016, 4:06 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 12:47 am
Hermann Hreidarsson scores for Pompey in the 7-4 victory against Reading in September, 2007

But when you look to the stars these days what do you see?

The top tier still shines bright in the sky, its glare blinding us all.

But is that the place we’re really reaching for? Is that, ultimately where we’re all aspiring to be?

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After always being an advocate of aiming for the highest highs, I find myself at an ethical crossroads when chronicling Pompey’s progress.

Would you really want to end up back in the Premier League again?

We may be in a different stratosphere at present, as we scrabble about trying to leave league League Two at the fourth time of asking.

But the land of milk, honey, £6 hot dogs and £2,000 season tickets is the natural height of our ambitions.

And every time I look at it these days it looks a less appealing place to aspire to.

Okay, I’m sure finance director, Tony Brown and CEO Mark Catlin can point to 80 million reasons a season it really isn’t that bad.

But to me the Premier League just doesn’t look, well, fun these days.

Maybe it’s just those rose-tinted spectacles taking hold. Those nostalgic memories of what’s gone before gaining extra momentum as the years pass.

Either way, I just can’t remember the last time I saw a decent top-flight game. Not in the English sense anyway.

It seems a long while since a Liverpool v Newcastle (1996), Arsenal v Manchester United (1997) or even Pompey v Reading (2007).

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just getting old and yearning for the good ol’ days, when the astute suggest that’s just us reinterpreting the past to glorify our own football heydays.

But I’ve had enough of the product, I’ve had enough of the slick promotion and marketing, and I’ve pretty much had enough of the games.

A Friday night scrap at Gigg Lane holds more televised appeal these days than an endlessly hyped match-up between one of the top four, which will almost certainly finish 0-0 on the back of two sides trying not to lose.

Match of the Day has become a backdrop to my Saturday evening’s work where once it was a weekend pilgrimage. Even in the pub these days the live game is white noise to chatter about my mates’ latest DIY projects (it’s not even about their weekend exploits anymore).

The stats do back up that it’s not just me becoming a football curmudgeon.

A total of 28 per cent of Premier League games finish without a winner – the lowest of the major leagues in Europe.

That’s fine if the game ends up 3-3, but the top flight now averages 2.7 goals per game – fourth highest of the top six leagues.

Looking through a Pompey prism really shines a light on the subject, too.

For all the modern glory achieved by the club, Fratton Park wasn’t always the nicest place to be in the Premier League era, with the very same slick marketing and media types who inhabit the Premier League permeating PO4.

The result was people being paid exorbitant wages to dream up schemes like charging an inordinate amount of money for membership to an exclusive wine-bar style club in the Fratton End.

Anyone with an ounce of understanding of the club’s make-up knew such schemes were just ridiculous.

For all the success, layers of Pompey’s identity were stripped from them through that period.

Perceived wisdom suggests the Championship is Pompey’s natural home.

The second tier has an air of the Premier League 20 years ago.

It looks a more enjoyable place to be and retains an Englishness to its tempo.

Getting out of League Two would be a start, but the league where the Blues have spent most of their time is somewhere to aim for.

The Premier League? I’m really not so sure.