Defeats of Christmas past
Ah, Christmas. A time for food, festivities and football. Some would say there’s so much football, it actually hurts. In a good way, of course.
But still, the gruelling Crimbo calendar can have a huge effect on a team, in both a positive and negative way. You can get on a run and completely storm it, or you can lose every game and drain any ounce of confidence you had previously.
Being a Portsmouth fan, the former has never really happened; instead it’s normally nearer the latter. As in recent years, Pompey haven’t enjoyed the best of fortunes around about this wonderful time of the year. Bah humbug indeed.
In-fact, looking back at the past ten seasons, the Blues have failed to win more than one game during a festive fixture bonanza. Last term they didn’t reign victorious in a single one, drawing 1-1 with Millwall on Boxing Day and 3-3 with Leeds two days later, before the New Year started with defeats to Watford and Hull.
Even in the Premiership days, Pompey couldn’t enjoy a host of points over the holidays. In the relegation campaign, a draw with West Ham was followed by losses to Manchester City and Fulham, whilst in 2009-10; they were destroyed 4-1 at home by the Hammers before suffering a 1-0 beating away at Arsenal. Tis the season to be jolly, but only if you’re playing Portsmouth it seems.
You have to go back to New Years Day 2008 for the last time the Blues picked up three points in a match just after Christmas, when goals from John Utaka and Sol Campbell helped them see off Reading 2-0 at the Madejski Stadium.
Even back then though, they still drew and lost their other two matches.
The most recent Boxing Day win came the season before, in 2006, when two headers from club legend and all-round nice guy Linvoy Primus downed that pesky West Ham lot 2-1 at Upton Park. But still, a 3-2 loss at Bolton and a home draw with Spurs shortly followed. In the previous three campaigns in the top-flight collectively, Pompey won just three of their ten festive fixtures in total, tying two of them and losing five.
Even the season Harry Redknapp led them to promotion, they were held by Palace and Watford, beating Nottingham Forest in between, whereas the year before, the Blues were seen off by Gillingham and Grimsby.
So overall, in a decade of yuletide football, Pompey have won six, drawn nine and lost a whopping 16 in league encounters during the week after Christmas. If that doesn’t get the Fratton faithful into the festive spirit I don’t know what will.
This time around, Michael Appleton’s side face Millwall yet again on Boxing Day in a repeat of last season, followed by a trip to Leicester on New Year’s Eve before Watford travel south on the 2nd January.
Unbeaten in four, I’d like to think that the new found confidence in the dressing room could lead to at least six points from those three games, with perhaps an unprecedented two wins for once.
But as its Christmas, and its Pompey, I won’t be counting on it.