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Grant's finest hour as Spurs sunk

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Phil McNulty | 22:16 UK time, Sunday, 11 April 2010

The twisted logic that has accompanied Portsmouth's progress through a campaign of endless chaos and confusion means there should be no surprise when they are relegated from the Premier League one day and reach the FA Cup Final the next.

Even triumphant manager Avram Grant admitted it would have taken "a crazy director" to conjure up the storyline of Portsmouth's season - a statement laced with unintentional irony given the antics around the revolving door into Fratton Park's boardroom.

And there may yet be another, even more unlikely, twist in this tale after Portsmouth beat all odds and overwhelming favourites Spurs 2-0 to set up a final date with Chelsea.

Common sense decrees that the fantasy will surely end when Grant faces his former employers on 15 May, but since when did common sense last apply to any events involving Portsmouth?

Portsmouth arrived at Wembley with their return to the Championship confirmed after a season of adminstration, points deductions, regular ownership changes, wages paid late and a journey to the precipice of extinction.

So perilous is Portsmouth's financial position that many of their squad will actually have to waive bonuses within their contracts if they have any desire to face Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

It is against this backdrop that the dignified and under-stated Grant has emerged as a central figure in the drama. He was labelled "The True Spirit Of Pompey" on a banner draped from a Wembley balcony on Sunday.

Avram Grant celebrates as Portsmouth reach FA Cup finalAvram Grant jumps for joy as Portsmouth reach FA Cup final

Portsmouth's plight has found an ideal home in the FA Cup this season. The competition welcomes underdogs, downtrodden, the troubled and unlikely heroes, giving them all a fighting chance. Pompey, judged on that criteria, are the perfect fit.

And so it proved again as Grant wrote his name indelibly into Portsmouth folklore by sending out a patched-up team to pull the rug from under Spurs, led by one of his Fratton Park predecessors Harry Redknapp.

There was almost a sense the fates were guiding Portsmouth as they survived the best Spurs could throw at them before striking the crucial blows in extra time through Frederic Piquionne and a penalty from Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Luck was also on their side when referee Alan Wiley left goalkeeper David James relieved by mystifyingly ruling he had been fouled by Niko Kranjcar before Peter Crouch bundled home what would have been an instant response to Piquionne's goal.

And on a day when Wembley's shameful surface played tricks on just about every player, it was poor Michael Dawson who suffered most as he slipped moving to clear a routine free-kick and left Piquionne with that decisive opportunity nine minutes into extra time.

Spurs, despite an average display that betrayed their aspirations to finish in the Premier League's top four, will rightly feel hard done by not to have won in normal time.

Peter Crouch can hardly miss when he plays for England at Wembley. Not so in this semi-final as all Spurs' best chances came and went at the feet and head of the giant striker.

He even smiled in resignation when a shot seconds from the end of the 90 minutes was blocked by James' leg. This was, however, no laughing matter for the Spurs fans who made a hasty dash for the exits the moment Boateng's penalty beat Heurelho Gomes.

Fortune, for once, may have smiled on Pompey - but their sheer desire and determination made them worthy winners courtesy of a performance that was a glowing testimony to the bond between Grant, his players and their magnificent supporters.

This is arguably Grant's finest hour in English football, outstripping even his feat in guiding Chelsea to the 2008 Champions League final. He was given scant credit for applying the steadying hand to Stamford Bridge after the turbulence caused by Jose Mourinho's departure.

And even if he had claimed Europe's elite trophy no doubt it would have been labelled in many quarters as a victory for a Mourinho team merely kept on auto-pilot by Grant.

Portsmouth's FA Cup success, and their creditable performances even in relegation, is all his own work and Grant was emotional in his after-match briefing. If he did not get the credit he deserved at Chelsea, he must receive it for guiding Portsmouth back to Wembley.

Wearing a Holocaust memorial armband and paying tribute to the influence of his late father Meir, who died in recent months, on his philosophy on life, he underscored the importance of the victory for so many involved with Pompey.

As all connected with Portsmouth celebrated almost with an air of disbelief, it was a football club that was about players, staff and fans again - not administrators or owners past, present and future.

There was genuine feeling as Grant said: "To see the players and fans so happy, you work for moments like this all of your life."

Grant's opposite number Harry Redknapp was gracious and dignified in defeat, especially as it came against the club he guided to FA Cup triumph two years ago, a feat almost forgotten by many Pompey fans amid the rancour of his departure and the club's subsequent financial meltdown.

Redknapp will know too many of Spurs' most influential performers failed to make any major impact on events, despite creating the majority of the presentable chances. He now faces a major task to revitalise dispirited troops to focus once more on the battle for fourth place in the Premier League when they face derby rivals Arsenal at White Hart Lane on Wednesday.

As well as Crouch's profligacy in front of goal, Jermain Defoe cut an anonymous figure and Spurs, a side that can dazzle going forward, were laboured, not helped by what is fast becoming the notorious Wembley playing surface.

Redknapp - and it should be stated that at no stage did he offer this up as an excuse - launched a savage and fully justified attack on the lamentable state of Wembley's pitch. It is a disgrace and lets down the wonderfully reconstruced old stadium.

"Disgrace...farcical...unreal...like a skating rink...impossible to play on," were some of Redknapp's criticisms. And who can take issue with him after the surface had such a detrimental effect on two showpiece FA Cup semi-finals?

If the Football Association and Wembley's authorities cannot cure this recurring problem, then the credibility of the entire stadium goes on the line. No point having a beautiful shop window if the goods in the back are second-rate and shoddy.

The unfortunate Dawson, who saw his footing fail at the game's defining moment, will not remember it with any affection.

Grant sympathised with Redknapp's assertions about Wembley - but was past caring as he prepared to "celebrate with many of my family and friends who came from all over the world - people who believed."

He has, perhaps light-heartedly, threatened to write a book about his experiences at Portsmouth this season. It will have to wait as the final chapter may yet provide a conclusion from the realms of fantasy.

You can follow me throughout this season at twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me on Facebook.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    I think Mr McNulty you are falling into a trap around Portsmouth FA Cup run. Even after the chaos of 2009-10 they still have a squad predominatily acquired by financial mismanagement and false prospectus. They have struggled in the league through bad managers, Hart and to a lesser extent Grant. That they now give us the ultimate "plague on both your houses" final is more to do with luck and bad refereeing (Wiley made two bad calls). For Portsmouth to win a second FA Cup in a period they proberbly should have gone out of business says more about modern football's distorted soul than any other outcome.

  • Comment number 2.

    What is the official excuse for the Wembley pitch?

    Is it the wrong kind of weather?
    Is it the wrong kind of country?
    Is it the wrong kind of grass?
    Is it the wrong kind of football boots played on it?
    Is it the wrong kind of dates, matches playing on it?
    Is it the wrong kind of sport played on it?

  • Comment number 3.

    "Spurs thought they had swiftly restored equality when Crouch bundled the ball into the net, but referee Alan Wiley adjudged that Niko Kranjcar had fouled James as he challenged for Bale's cross."
    Phil McNulty 6:36 p.m. 11th April

    "Luck was also on their side when referee Alan Wiley left goalkeeper David James relieved by mystifyingly ruling he had been fouled by Niko Kranjcar before Peter Crouch bundled home what would have been an instant response to Piquionne's goal."
    Phil McNulty 10:16 p.m. 11th April

    Better but still not accurate. As an impartial observer, I thought Crouch took his chance brilliantly, he certainly didn't "bundle" it home. It was obvious from James's facial expression that he knew he'd got away with it.

    btw I know that the BBC no longer lays any claim to grammatical correctness but "judged on that criteria", oh please.
    Judged on that criterion or judged on those criteria, NEVER "judged on that criteria".

  • Comment number 4.

    It's very sad that both semi-finals were decided by refereeing errors.

  • Comment number 5.

    Well done Portsmouth.

    As a Chelsea fan, I certainly give Grant the credit for taking us to the Champions League Final in 2008 - even if that particular campaign ended trophyless. And now, given the circumstances, I'm glad he's finally getting the praise he deserves for guiding Portsmouth to the FA Cup Final. It's just a shame he's up against the team I support - were it any other club, and I'd be rooting for him and Portsmouth all the way.

  • Comment number 6.

    it is sad that the players agents will rule many of the players out for the final due to bonus's and any bonus due for a european place next season will make it finicial suicide for Pompey to win the final anyway. So expect a chelsea win, success again for anti football, we are all losers in this.

  • Comment number 7.

    In addition to the points already mentioned, its worth saying that the free kick award that led on to the Piquionne goal was an incredibly soft one, and certainly would not have been given had it happened in the penalty area.

    That being said, the fact is that despite all the possession and chances, Spurs were unable to take one of them and so we can't really complain about refereeing decisions. The state of the pitch is comical, but as the managers all pointed out, its the same for both teams.

    One point I am now wondering about, how do these results affect European qualification? The League cup has been won by a team that will be in the CL, the FA cup will be either the same, or a team that is ineligible to enter Europe according to the FA. Does this mean that the Europa league placings are now going to revert to 5th through 7th in the league, or do the best placed finishers in the cup competitions get the nod?

  • Comment number 8.

    This weekend has seen some of the worst refereeing in many years in two semi finals, Wiley was obviously giving everything he could to Pompey, the goal, the penalty (wrong decision, and then he gave a yellow card when if it was a foul it should have been a red) and several obvious opportunities for Spurs to play advantage not allowed. Is someone honestly telling me this is one of the best refs in the country? His performance was an absolute disgrace to British football. He was Pompey's 12th man yesterday, not the crowd.

    The groundsman at Wembley has already got Owen's injury on his hands, and wrecked the weekends play and surely should be fired for his/her gross incompetence, what on earth were they doing hosing the pitch down like that yet again when it caused so many problems in the League Cup final?

  • Comment number 9.

    Mr Phil this blog is absolutely spot on. For Porstmouth to put all this behind and beat Spurs is sheer determination. Clarkeonenil needs eye glasses if he believe pompey was simply lucky to beat spurs. Yes decision went pompey's way but on the balance of play, they deserve their victory. Same goes to martin o'neil ane aston villa, some decisions went chelsea's way but on the balance of play, chelsea were better than Aston Villa.

  • Comment number 10.

    As a Spurs fan, thee feeling is that this was a massive opportunity missed and that despite all of our progress, it's the same old Spurs. This is what we do, we do all of the hard work of getting past tricky ties like Bolton and Fulham, then we lose what appears to be the easier fixture on paper in sight of glory.

    Maybe this is what we'll always do, but I think that a change in the culture of the club would help. We need to be more ruthless, we're too happy-go-lucky sometimes. Teams like Chelsea and Man Utd have based their success on the absolute hunger and desire to win at all costs, something Spurs lack.

    On yesterday's game, Spurs dominated statistics wise, but we didn't ever really look like scoring. Portsmouth probably deserved it in the end for the passion and commitment they showed.

  • Comment number 11.

    Delighted for both Grant and all the players after the off-field chaos they have endured this year. I reckon Celtic could do worse than appoint Avram for next year. He seems tohave united a group of players that have been assembled from all over the shop and got them playing for the badge and the fans - something badly lacking at Parkhead this year.

  • Comment number 12.

    Well done Pompey. I do hope that they don't get whacked in the final though, surely they can't beat Chelsea?

    Shame about the pitch, it really is a disgrace.

  • Comment number 13.

    Grants Finest hour? You are a having a laugh. Using your logic for Chelsea I could argue that at least Portsmouth were there last year. I could argue that what is going on in the boardroom and the banks, should not affect the players way of playing a game. His finest hour? No, but finally people in England may actually start to take him seriously as a manager.

  • Comment number 14.

    Relegation from the Premiership and the inevitable defeat in the FA Cup final to Chelsea, and all in one season.

    As a Boro fan all I'll say is we did it first, so there!

  • Comment number 15.

    How can the pitch at the emirates, only a short distance away, be so fantastic yet the FA have spent so much cash on constantly relaying the shambolic wembley turf?

  • Comment number 16.

    Clarkeonenil is a little disingenuous when he suggests this Pompey team was bought out of the financial mismanagement of our club. The team that WAS bought out of such impropriety now play for, amongst others, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and bless my soul, Spurs.
    So all you Spurs fans who want to suggest such a thing remind yourselves that you were beaten by our reserve team.
    And please allow me to declare Avram Grant as a true footballing gentleman. Someone who walks through this sometimes tawdry industry with the demenour of the great Sir Bobby Robson.

  • Comment number 17.

    2008 FA Cup Pompey's poisoned chalice!
    2010 FA Cup, Grant's redemption draweth nigh?
    Kudos to Avram for his dedication, sacrifice and ability.
    Well done Pompey!

  • Comment number 18.

    I really hope Pompey win the FA cup, the team isn't even a shadow of its former self seeing as alot of top quality players left, O'Hara has a chance now to play against Chelsea and i'd love it if he won the cup, it's beyond fantasy, if this was a story i'd think it was too unreal, the FA cup really has got its magic back and it's a no small thanks to Portsmouth and their players, I really do hope this continues, the players wave their fee and they go onto win the cup, they deserve it though I really do think Chelsea will hammer them. Good blog.

  • Comment number 19.

    The more times the pitch is relaid at Wembley the worse it seems to get. It really is lamentable. I think it is so bad that it could well harm England's chances of staging the World Cup in 2018.

  • Comment number 20.

    As a Spurs fan, obviously very disappointed that we didn't make the final but that is Spurs all over. Always falling when something good is about to happen, disappointment is something we are used to! However, we have made huge strides this year but we are only performing now as we should have been for some years with the players we have. I hope this doesn't ruin our season and we fall apart.

    Good luck to Portsmouth, they defended superbly well on the day and took their chances. We didn't and we probably didn't deserve to win. I hope they perform in the final and do themselves justice. Chelsea are obvious favourites but then so were Spurs for the semi so fingers crossed to a good game.

  • Comment number 21.

    Perhaps it's fate that F.A. Cup glory which lead to Portmouth's undoing is going to be the last act of this club in the Premiership. Spurs fans shouldn't put the blame on the referee, though.

    The goal should have stand. Look at a replay with James's smile after the incident and you have your answer. The penalty, though was more of a penalty than 'taking the ball', as Palacios was all over the attacker and while taking a bit of the ball, he ensured with leg and arms that the Portsmouth player went down.

    Normally, teams have 90 minutes to get a win; Spurs had 120. Wembley, with a good or a bad pitch, is a big pitch for teams to play football. It's difficult to defend for the whole match in such pitches. Furthermore, Portsmouth have sold their best players, had some of the remaining injured, had O'Hara unavailable for the match. Portsmouth were a first XI assembled with what was still available. Perhaps this is where the match was lost for Spurs. Remember the word 'complacency'?

    You walk into a match, thinking how easily you will score goals, in your mind. You find a team not wanting to give up, for whatever reasons. You end up with egg on your face. It's a sort of football match we've seen many times and will see as many, in the future. It's complacency or whatever you want to call it.

    If a book was written about Portsmouth F.C. 2010, it would probably become a best seller.

  • Comment number 22.

    If a book was written about Portsmouth F.C. 2010, it would probably become a best seller.

    ------------------------------------

    In Portsmouth perhaps.

  • Comment number 23.

    If a book was written about Portsmouth F.C. 2010, it would probably become a best seller.

    ------------------------------------

    In Portsmouth perhaps.

    -------------------------------------------

    Don't bet on that.

  • Comment number 24.

    Andrew, I bet you are really good company. Always up for an expansive chat eh?

  • Comment number 25.

    I don't believe Portsmouth will be eligible for Europe as they are in administration.

  • Comment number 26.

    I laugh when people complain about refereeing decisions because these guys are unbelievable short sighted. When the decisions are against the hated Man United or the pitied Arsenal, it's ok but when it's against A. Villa it's woeful?

    I watched Alan Wiley yesterday and it was almost as if he was limping. He did not seem fit! Just as Sir Alex pointed out a few months ago. People are so blinkered in this country it almost seems as if when those to, they can only see things through a mist of (hate, jealousy, envy or just pure spite)

    I know for a fact that Sir Alex complains too much about referees and refereeing, but I also know this does not mean all his comments should be thrown into the dustbin as lacking merit. Alas, this appears to be the British way.

    Fact is the gentleman has won all there is to be won. He has absolutely nothing to prove to anyone and by the way, has anyone noticed he hardly complains about European referees? This is in my opinion is because they are generally better (with the exemption of the occassional 'Ovrebo'.

    So lets all suffer in silence...

  • Comment number 27.

    It's not the first time a referee will make a couple of bad decisions and it won't be the last. People always seem to act like it's a new phenomenon. The only people who should be complaining are Spurs and Villa staff/ fans.

  • Comment number 28.

    Congratulations uche for comment #9 - quite clearly the stupidest person here today. Pompey deserved their win on the balance of play?

    Spurs had 57% of the possession, 16 attempts on target compared to Pompey's 7, 15 attempts off target to Pompey's 5 and 20 corners compared to Pompey's 7. Also had what most would argue was a perfectly good equaliser disallowed and were awarded a harsh penalty against them.

    Perhaps you could now explain how Portsmouth had the balance of play because judging by every statistic used to measure such things they were well and truly beaten. I don't begrudge them the win, they scored more goals that counted than Spurs that's how football works. But to say they deserved it on the balance of play shows you either didn't actually watch the match or you just don't like Spurs because it's the most ridiculous comment on here so far.

  • Comment number 29.

    Saints fan in peace.

    Pompey in the Cup Final is a fantastic story and the game yesterday was properly won. The surface was terrible but it was the same for both teams. The ref clearly blew before Crouch scored, so it may have been an ultra-minor infringement, but he was decisive. All the armchair refs, managers and groundsmen cannot take away the fact that in the circumstances, on the day, Pompey scored twice and Spurs didn't, and football is great because of the drama, because of the soap opera, because players are flawed and great in the space of one game, and because of the unpredictability. Well done that rag-tag team and their manager, and I hope they beat Chelsea.

  • Comment number 30.

    I would like to ask Phil a question, regarding a prior blog title referring to an alleged decline of english football.

    Having seen two english teams progressing to the semi finals of the Europa Cup, doesn't this indicate strength in depth, as a league?

    Last night, I watched Mallorca v Valencia, mostly out of curiosity - a mediocre match, with plenty of fouls, something like what fans tend to call boring, in England. Then I had a look at the spanish league table and saw a 20-21 gap between 2nd team and 3rd.

    I felt happier following the premiership much closer than that league.

  • Comment number 31.

    Thank you sunnypompey, one certainly tries.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi Phil

    Shouldn't "Pompey, judged on that criteria, are the perfect fit" read as "Pompey, judged on that criteria, IS the perfect fit"? Pompey - or Portsmouth FC - is a single entity.

  • Comment number 33.

    #28,

    Spurs had 57% possesion, meaning Portsmouth had 43% - not that bad.
    Spurs had 31 attempts, on and off target together, just the forgot to bring their boots with them. How many big chances had Spurs had?
    I don't want to go on about statistics, as numbers tend to be the biggest liars.

    In truth, towards the end of the game, Spurs would have been embarrassed by another team.

    Also, everybody speaks of how bad Willey was for Spurs. Do you allow me to remind you of an incident with that very Dawson, jumping for a header with his elbow all over Piquionne, leaving him on the ground for 1-2 minutes? By not receiving a card, he "served" Piquionne again, a minute later. And on the following minutes, Piquionne scored.

    You can talk about incidents all day.
    One though would remember that Spurs played on the aftermath of a 3-1 defeat at Sunderland where, had Bent scored two penalties, it would be a much heavier 5-1.
    Are Spurs on a deep of form?
    On the balance of scored goals yesterday, they are.

  • Comment number 34.

    Phil, a few thoughts:

    1/ you've painted portsmouth as the plucky underdogs who have heroically overcome adversity. In reality any success has been achieved by a team which has been acquired through financial mismanagement, essentially cheating other clubs who have operated within their means of a place in the prem and FA cup. History will tell that in this period Portsmouth won (potentially 2) FA cups, whilst competing in Europe and the Prem - all the while equally sized clubs who have been managed responsibly and lived within their means have not much to show for the past 10 years but championship or league 1 football. Its not the fans fault, but praising the club feels dirty.

    2/ and what about all the praise the portsmouth players have had for 'dontating' some of their wage so that a skeleton portsmouth staff can be retained after 85 were laid off? Reportedly they 'stepped in' so that groundsman Tug Wilson could keep his job on £60 a day after decades of working for the club. John Utaka is on a reported £80k per week.. and thats just one player. In my honest opinion whatever they have donated is not enough worthy of praise. On his reported wage John Utaka could have single handedly paid for that groundsman's wage for 4 years by just donating a week's salary. We know that they were entitled to get the best deal possible when they signed, but again, does it not feel slightly unreal to praise them when it is these contracts and their, lets face it, poultry concessions, which have bled the club dry.

    Disillusioned with the journalism here Phil, this isnt the plucky underdog story. Its a shame they got through. How does Portsmouth having any success this season discourage this kind of behaviour??

  • Comment number 35.

    I've always rated Grant, and I'm glad he's getting the praise he deserves.

    At Chelsea, he inherited a team dispirited by Mourinho's departure; yet he managed to get them further in the Champions League than Mourinho ever did. Considering the Champions League was always Chelsea's priority and he inherited a team in a much worse psychological state than when Mourinho started his tenure, and without the ability to make transfers for 4 months; I rate him higher than the 'Special One'.

  • Comment number 36.

    Finest hour?????

    That has to have been one of the worst football matches I have ever witnessed!

    Pompey parked 10 people in the box for 90 mins - written in the stars.....and guess what?? They will roll over in the final against Chelsea

  • Comment number 37.

    Andrew, a suitably dry response born maybe from an aptly arid imagination? Surely, if the Pompey2010 book was written you would have a little peek?
    Relegation, Cup Final Top v Bottom, administration, revenge over the old manager, financial skulduugery of epic proportions, Arabs employing Israelis, Israelis employing Arabs, sons of alleged gun runners, a team spirit that defies the general assumptions of the modern professional footballer and a support that is more passionate even in relegation than those of winning teams? Surely you would be curious?

  • Comment number 38.

    Whats really cool is the match Fulham and liverpool played out which was a dire 0 0 will be the Europa final probably. I can't wait.

  • Comment number 39.

    Portsmouth were really up for that game, David James looked in one of his unbeatable guises which typified their attitude. Portsmouth had managed to get key player/s back for the game and so had Spurs but it was the Portsmouth returnees who shone (Huddlestone had the worst game I have seen from him). Portsmouth will now probably end up eventually going the way of Luton and Spurs will finish 6th or 7th in the league.

  • Comment number 40.

    Hope Fergie was watching...120 minutes for Alan Wiley to prove his fitness and he just about managed it.I think he got all the big decisions right and stood firm.The playing surface was an absolute disgrace and contributed to the yellow cards for Dindane and Huddlestone as well as Dawson's slip for the first Pompey goal.If the FA can't sort the playing pitch of this magnificent stadium then I hope the competing nations for the WC in 2018 take advantage.Congrats to Pompey.Also the sight of Crouch missing chance after chance most be worrying to say the least for England fans.

  • Comment number 41.

    As a neutral observer of both semi-finals and a qualified referee it saddens and angers me that again the officials for both of these matches have caught too many headlines.

    Regarding the Pompy vs Spurs match, if I had given all of the decisions that Mr Wiley had given I'd truly have trouble sleeping at night. To be kind to him the two BIG decisions were 50/50 at best (and that's being very kind). Why David James was afforded such protection for simply being unable to get to the ball only Mr Wiley knows. And if we assume that the penalty was a 50/50 decision then on that basis alone the referee cannot give it.

    People say that referees do not lose you matches but it has to be said that a referee can certainly win you one. Yes, Spurs were poor on the day and yes they had chances to score but missed them but then I ask you what did Portsmouth bring to the party other than the appearance of a side playing for penalties from the moment the game kicked off.

    Portsmouth got their (more than one) slice of luck and like any team in that situation were more than happy to take it. The main point of the post being that both semi-finals could have been very different but for the man in the middle. Over the course of a season these decisions probably even themselves out, over 90 or 120 minutes they tend to favour one over the other which however much you argue that it's always been that way just doesn't make it right.

    After a match the result is final and gone and cannot be changed and the media fall over players and managers for their reactions and feelings but the man that everyone wants to comment on the match disappears down the tunnel never to be seen again until another match day which all goes to leave a rather nasty taste in the mouth.

    I hope you can sleep at night Mr Wiley because I certainly couldn't if I was you.

  • Comment number 42.

    So glad that you've managed to focus on the plucky underdog story rather than the,
    a. the appalling financial management of portsmouth and the financial implications of them getting through to the final
    b. the fact that the pitch has ruined and been a deciding factor in an fa cup semi final, and despite being open now for 4 years wembley has failed to produce a decent pitch despite costing well over £600 million
    c. the referees managing to make several appalling decisions in both cup semi finals that completely changed the games, from villa not getting a blatant penalty, terry not being sent off, portsmouth being given a free kick for an imaginary foul, a perfectly good spurs goal being ruled out and palacios being penalised for winning the ball and getting a yellow card which gives him a 2 match ban.

    obviously none of those points are worth pointing out.

    And nor is the fact that as it wasn't man united being affected by the referee nothing will happen to the referee either

  • Comment number 43.

    uche #9 Pretty certain you didn't watch the match if you think on the balance of play Pompey deserved to win.they played well but at times were steamrolled by Spurs.

  • Comment number 44.

    40. At 09:54am on 12 Apr 2010, redandblackT-The legend of Herbert Kilpin wrote:

    "I think he got all the big decisions right"

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Are you having a laugh?! Crouch's disallowed goal was a joke. You could tell that even David James thought so when the cameras showed his reaction.

    Plus, on a lesser note, the freekick that actually led to Piquionne's goal was incorrectly awarded.

    Oh, and some would say Palacios got the ball when the penalty was awarded.



    But yeh, other than that he got all the big decisions right.

  • Comment number 45.

    How can Pompey receive so much praise? THey had the easiest draws since the last time they won the fa cup, their hardest opposition has been spurs.
    The win against spurs was almost farcical, with the referee disallowing crouch's goal for no apparent reason, which even left David James bemused.
    I also query the 'magnificent supporters' who regularly fill their tiny stadium. If you compare the stats with a league one side, you would be shocked to find a league 1 side, Southampton has a higher average attendance than these 'magnificent supporters'

  • Comment number 46.

    I know there are some gracious Spurs supporters out there but as for the rest with comments about refereeing standards the pitch etc, may I remind you that the Spurs team were the overwhelming favourites to win this match. Spurs were playing a patched up Pompey team four had returned from injury and had not played a previous match for weeks, one had a broken hand 2 were playing out of position and you still could not beat them. 3 of the alleged better Pompey players of last season were actually playing for Spurs they also had their ex manager and most of their back room staff and still they moan about the referee etc, and just to show what good supporters they are they deserted Wembley in shed loads near the end. No staying on to cheer their team for taking them to an FA cup semi final and fighting for a Champions League place. I can gaurantee that if the result had been reversed the Pompey supporters would have been there at the end cheering their team.
    You will find over time that HR is a one dimensional coach, a very good man motivator but normally finds it difficult to change tactics. The best season Pompey had in the Prem was due to Tony Adams who changed the way Pompey played away, TA and HR worked well together. Prior to TA's tactical change Pompey's away record was appalling. You will also discover that HR talks his teams down, the oppostion always have better players with bigger squads etc, this enables him to lobby for more expensive players and ever more increasing wages. Just look at his record at Bournemouth, West Ham. Southampton and Portsmouth all left in financial difficulties after his tenure as manager. If Harry gets his way Euro football is a must for Spurs for the finance it offers, if they do not qualify even though a big club they will suffer under Harry and the Spurs supporters dream of challenging the like of Arsenal will be a brief dream. As a football fan I hope that Man City along with Spurs and Villa and of course any other Prem team break the big 4 monopoly and wish them all success for the future. Hopefully one day Portsmouth will also find its way back to the Prem League but I would prefer it to have a stable existence and if that means playing outside the top flight then to have a team to support would be preferable to none at all.

  • Comment number 47.

    Hello there Soccer_UK #33 - my issue was with the comment that Pompey had the balance of play. You can bring up other points from previous games all you like but that wasn't the issue I was addressing.

    However as you have let's just answer your comment point by point. Spurs had 57% possession to Portsmouth's 43%. You say not that bad and yes it's not terrible but it's still not great. It doesn't mean a tea didn't have the balance of play but it certainly doesn't show they dominated proceedings. As for your question of how many big chances did Spurs have, well there was the chance from Crouch which James saved with his feet, there was a header from Crouch which went just wide, there was a shot from I believe it was Huddlestone which dipped late and James tipped over the bar, there was another header from Crouch that Defoe nearly got a touch to that James had to save late. Is it a list of all 31 attempts that you're after to show how many of them were big chances?

    Your point about shooting boots is valid to an extent, although I think half the attempts being on target isn't bad, it's just that James made a few good saves and had a bit of good fortune with some others.

    "In truth, towards the end of the game, Spurs would have been embarrassed by another team." - what while we were chasing the game trying to get an equaliser? It's a cup match that's what every team would do, you throw men forward to get the equaliser meaning you end up short at the back. Yes you're right but there's a pretty obvious reason why we ended up with a lot of 2 on 1s and 2 on 2s at the end.

    As for the elbow incident, was it a goal scoring opportunity when Dawson caught him? No. Was it a sending off offense? No. So how did it really alter the match? The disallowed goal could have played a big part in the final result. Dawson slipped for Piquionne's goal, again played a big part in the result. And the penalty given against Palacios was harsh. I'm not saying it was perfect but he definitely got a touch on the ball. You can argue he got the man as well but it was hardly clear cut.

    So as I said I don't begrudge Portsmouth their win and I wish them well in the final. But to say they had the balance of play is utter rubbish.

    Oh and onto your last paragraph. I would answer your question are Spurs on a "deep of form" but I'm not sure what that means. If you mean a bad run then yes it's not great at the moment and with games coming up against Arsenal, Chelsea and United 4th place isn't looking likely. But it's still been a pretty good season and we look like we should get European football again next year which isn't bad.

  • Comment number 48.

    Dave #15. There are two reasons for the difference in the playing surfaces of Wembley and the Emirates. First Wembley is a larger and higher stadium which affects the amount of light and ventilation reaching the surface. Second, the Emirates is only used for playing football whereas Wembley is used for other sports and concerts which means that the pitch gets cut up more.

    o/t Well done Pompey! Good luck for the final!!

  • Comment number 49.

    financial skulduugery of epic proportions, Arabs employing Israelis, Israelis employing Arabs, sons of alleged gun runners, a team spirit that defies the general assumptions of the modern professional footballer and a support that is more passionate even in relegation than those of winning teams? Surely you would be curious?

    -----------------------------------------------

    Too right I would be, in fact I'd probably call Team America

  • Comment number 50.

    26: "Fact is the gentleman has won all there is to be won. He has absolutely nothing to prove to anyone and by the way, has anyone noticed he hardly complains about European referees?"

    He's got plenty to prove to me- not in trophies, but that he's got some class for one. Success does NOT mean that you have any more right to criticise officials, certainly not in the frequency and manner he does. As you rightly point out, not all of his criticisms are wrong, but you ought not to defend his conduct. It's appalling. Of course he doesn't go after referees in Europe much, though I can remember a few occasions- he's too busy blaming the opponent's team! Typical Germans, remember?

  • Comment number 51.

    48. At 10:12am on 12 Apr 2010, JPSLotus79 wrote:

    But they always had concerts at the old Wembley and played rugby league finals there and the pitch was renowned as being the best around. having concerts is not a reason for the pitch being bad. Besides, events held at Wembley are fairly infrequent, so there's plenty of time to get the pitch right in between, unlike the Emirates where it's used 25 times a season.
    The reason the current pitch is so bad is due to an inherent flaw in the stadium design.

    At the Emirates, the stadium was designed with the direction of the sun light in mind, so it would receive as much as possible. At Wembley, this has been totally overlooked. The same happens at Old Trafford, although they have learned to manage this over the years. Also, Old Trafford was built years ago, so the direction the stadium was facing couldn't be changed.

    However, after spending 7 years and £800m building Wembley, to not at least consider making the sides different heights to allow the maximum possible sunlight in is woeful.

  • Comment number 52.

    @Bunker1954

    It matters not whether Pompy put out a team of 11 grannies and Spurs a team of supreme athletes. No-one would question the team spirit or effort the Pompy team put in. But when you get the rub of the green from some questionable decisions that may just colour your judgement as to how well or not a team played.

    And just to add to my "ref rant", at the end of the match I think it was Bassong who kicked the ball "away" in frustration and Mr Wiley using his Collins book of refereeing common sense decided to book him for it. Despite the fact that the ball came back off the advertising board to roughly where it started, it didn't cause any disadvantage to Portsmouth (they would have taken a fortnight to take a fre kick if they could) and it was so near the end of the game that it really didn't matter anyway.

    It may sound like I'm bitter towards Portsmouth but I'm not. I'm merely concerned that both of the semi-finals were influenced by (at best) poor decisions. Good luck to Pompy in the final, I'm sure you'll need it but we can all only hope that the game isn't affected by decisions like we've seen this weekend.

  • Comment number 53.

    The series of photos from the home page are brilliant, & tell the story better than words. And this was just the semi-Final!

  • Comment number 54.

    A day where Spurs THRASHED the rubbish team Portsmouth only to be ROBBED by a rubbish pitch and an incompetent official making two HORRIBLE decisions

  • Comment number 55.

    I can't believe how negative some people are being about this. I've criticised Portsmouth myself in the past, and I do believe that it is correct that they should suffer the points deduction, but for goodness sake give them a break!

    It was a truely wonderful spectacle to see them reach the final, to see the delight of the players and fans, and above all the delight on Avram Grants face. If Portsmouth win the Cup final, I think that Grant and Roy Hodgson should share the Manager of the Year award.

    I don't care about where your loyalties lie, the state of the pitch, bad refereeing decisions, or how Portsmouth bought their players, if you were unmoved by what you saw at Wembley stadium on Sunday afternoon, you really need to take a long hard look at yourself. That was real football.


  • Comment number 56.

    38. At 09:50am on 12 Apr 2010, collie21 wrote:
    Whats really cool is the match Fulham and liverpool played out which was a dire 0 0 will be the Europa final probably. I can't wait.

    ========================================================

    Sorry but what has this got to do with the FA Cup Semi Final? You're not a Utd fan by any chance are you? So predictable.

    PS: As cool as the dire 0 - 0 at Blackburn perhaps?

  • Comment number 57.

    Great result, but as has already been mentioned, the pitch is a national disgrace. The FA cup is beamed around the world and is watched fanatically in the far East. What must they think about the home of football having an ice-rink as a playing surface?

    I didn't give Grant any credit at Chelsea up until the point they played Arsenal at Stamford Bridge and went a goal down. Grant made a double substitution to howls of "you don't know what you're doing" from the fans and a shake of the head from the substituted Ballack as he came off, clearly challenging the decision with his open dissent.

    A few minutes later, both subs were instrumental in the two goals scored. Giving Chelsea a 2-1 win.

    He deserves credit for his handling of the shambles that is Portsmouth, although incredibly Grant has still not managed an English side for a full season.

    Will he stick around for Championship football next season? who knows.

  • Comment number 58.

    Every single Manager laments either the pitch or the ref after every draw or defeat (even sometimes a win!) How much more can we accept of this? YES, Refs make game changing mistakes ( Drogba's offside goal against united,1000 other mistakes) YES, the wembley pitch is atrocious by our modern standers. But, what sort of grounds did some of the best players known to the game play on? Best, Charlton, Pele. There are no excuses to be made for either side. Pompey poured their heart and soul out for 120 minutes, and after a season worthy of a lobotomy for most fans they fully deserve their hour. Credit to Grant and every single player who went out onto that pitch a meer 24 hours after their relegation from the best league in the world. Like many other Neutrals, I am going to support Portsmouth in the final. do they deserve it? maybe. maybe not, But the FA cup has weeved its magic once again and I cant help but back the underdog.

  • Comment number 59.

    As much as i dont believe in the goal line technology, Referres are killin the beautiful game. . .

  • Comment number 60.

    Is there any way that all the media outlets in this country can organise between them some kind of campaign to get the FA to sort out the Wembley pitch once and for all? As a neutral fan I was looking forward to two good semi finals this weekend. Instead what I got was games where players were putting in 100% but being constantly undermined by a farcical playing surface The effects of which were numberous. Here's a few:

    Players so uncertain of the stability of their standing foot that shots and crosses were frequently lumped high up in the air. This happened too many times to simply put it down to player error.

    The ball travelling across the turf seemingly at half the normal pace.

    Players being booked because they lost their footing and slid into an opponent.

    Crucial goals being scored as a result of a player slipping rather than because of good football or bad defending.

    Quite possibly a host of niggling injuries - we'll wait and see.

    This is the most famous pitch in the world, it will host next years Champions League final and it should be the centrepiece of our World Cup bid. Instead it is a national disgrace. The FA make it very easy for us to have a go at them at the best of times but this pitch tops everything else. The fact that they did not see fit to make a comment when directly asked about the pitch by a number of media outlets simply makes the situation even more absurd.

    Either way, congratulations to Portsmouth and Chelsea. Hoping for a good final but would be the shock of my life if I actually saw a game worth watching.

  • Comment number 61.

    There are some serious sour grapes on here this morning...

    And there are some valid points made:

    1. The statistics do not indicate that Pompey were the better team, but it should be blindingly opbvious to anyone with the slightest understanding of football tactics that Avram Grant had a plan to soak up the pressure and try to hit them on the counter. It worked, and with that tactic the stats are always going to make your opposition look stronger.

    2. The Ref: I don't think that he had a great game, in general, but, it was a penalty, the defender was climbing all over him. SHould it have been a red card, as mentioned earlier? No, he wasn't the last defender and it wasn't by any means a professional or deliberate foul. It was an over enthusiastic tackle in a cup match. Harsh, but them's the rules...

    3. The Ditch, sorry, Pitch: Dreadful! But those spurs fans blaming it for the result, remember, both teams were plaing on the same pitch, there were at least 1/2 a dozen occassions when Bale got past Dindane because Dindane slipped and the yellow card that Dindane got was caused because hit foot slipped and made it a two footed tackle. Harsh, but them's the rules.

    4. Financial Mismanagement: This one really winds me up... People try to say that Pompey have cheated. How? What would happen at Man City if Sheik Mansour pulled every penny taht he had put into the club back? Would tehy be accused of cheating? Remeber that is the exact situation that Pompey were in last year that set the whole situation spiralling.

    There are probably no more than 6 EPL teams that could survive that type of scenario. Are all 14 of the other teams cheating? The fact of the matter is that English football is in a financially untenable situation and could well be heading for implosion. I hope not.

    I have no particular axe to grind with Redknapp or Spurs as a club, or their fans. But be gracious. The bottom line is that, on the day, in that two hours, Spurs couldn't score, mainly (but not exclusively) because Pompey's defense were on fire. Rocha, man of the match, Wilson finally looks like he's coming of age and has found his natural position, Mokoena, finally put in the kind of performance that brought him to the Premier League in teh first place.

    Hope that Spursmanage to grab 4th spot and have a year in the CL, but i uspect they'll be doing the Europa League next year.

    I hope that Spurs fans will be supporting us in the final.

  • Comment number 62.

    Astonishing Effort! Astounding Acheivement!

    Congrats to Portsmouth, its Club,Players and Surporters

    Blimey and us Gooners think we have had problems

    Avram Grant is a top man and i hope he stays with you and gets you back to the PL where you belong!

    and they say jose is a " special one " ? utter tosh!

    Shine on Pompey!

  • Comment number 63.

    @SystemF: I and every pompey fan hope he does. IF he doesn't he'll still be a legend.

  • Comment number 64.

    26. At 09:10am on 12 Apr 2010, Dapsy
    =========================
    Why does a blog about Pompey and Spurs have to become one about MUFC?

  • Comment number 65.

    Before substitutes were allowed, many games at Wembley were marred by one team or another, losing a player to the "Wembley Hoodoo".
    The pitch used to take its toll then and apparently it can still influence the outcome of games.

  • Comment number 66.

    Well done Pompey, as a Spurs supporter I'm not happy about a disgrace of a pitch, a disgrace of a referee and a terrible performance from Spurs.

    The best team didn't win but that happens for and against, I'm very unhappy that the two semi finals were played on a pitch that was not only terrible but also dangerous, players could have been badly injured on that surface.

    Good luck in the final Portsmouth, you're going to need it, the worst team against the best. It could be an embarrassing time but who knows I'll be cheering you on.

  • Comment number 67.

    I spent yesterday afternoon at Wembley surrounded by Spurs fans and I have to tell you that they were a lot more gracious in defeat than the bitter and twisted souls inhabiting this blog. They accepted that Pompey played to their limitations: hitting Spurs on the break but maintaining a decent amount of possession, creating the better chances and eventually capitalising on that fact.
    If Spurs want to blame anyone - then blame your team for playing less well than they should.
    On the question of admninistration: nobody asked Gaydamak to buy the club, nor to pump in millions which he subsequently has tried to reclaim(the basis of our debt). We are in the situation we are in because he turned off the money: Chelsea, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Manchester United would all be much worse off if their creditors either stopped investing (Abramovich and Lerner) or called in the debt (Glazers, Hicks & Gillette). What a nationalised bank is doing keeping American owners afloat at Liverpool I have no idea - other than that they owe so much it would hurt them to sink the ship - whereas Pompey owe too little to the wrong people.

  • Comment number 68.

    #28 Lee Fett - When Arsenal lost 2-0 at Stamford Bridge this year, they had the stats in their favour too, possession, shots on target, corners, etc, etc, but there wasn't an Arsenal fan stupid enough to suggest that the result was unfair based on these stats. The reality at Wembley was that Pompey were the better team because they defended well and took their chances when they came, end of story.

    I'm looking forward to the derby game on Wednesday, the target is all 3 points, and failure to get all 3 will be a bitter pill to swallow, regardless of what the statiticians say......

  • Comment number 69.

    @#61 Quayfee

    I'm confused by your answer in point 2. Bearing in mind that the game at that stage was some 100+ minutes old. Players are tired and you have one defender trying hard to stop one attacker scoring. I cannot see how else the defender could have got the ball other than the way he did, he had to make "contact" with the attacker as the attacker was using his arms/body to stop the defender getting near him. The defender played the ball NOT the man.

    In any case, if we are to assume it was a penalty we then have to examine if the defender denied a goal scoring opportunity (the "last man" rule doesn't actually exist) and in this instance you would have to say he did which in the letter of the law is a red card NOT a yellow one because of some reason the referee can make up for himself. There were no other covering defenders. But then the referee can apply the letter of the law to book someone for kicking the ball in frustration some 60 seconds or so before the end of the game. How does that square up?

    Of course, this is all without the need to go into the disallowed Crouch goal.

    I'm neither a Spurs fan or a Pompy fan. My beloved Hammers have troubles of their own. The point is how long can the referee decisions be the talking point of games? Because it's "authority" we're not supposed to question it. All the guff about a referee only has one view and all that rubbish. If he needs more time to make a decision then he's obviously not sure and if he's not sure then it's NO penalty. Whatever anyone says referees love making BIG decisions and he knew when he blew that whistle that it was a BIG decision.

  • Comment number 70.

    Question for Phil McNulty:

    Phil, there's alot of comment on this, other forums and from pundits about 'he got the ball' when penalties are awarded.

    I've always understood that a foul is a foul no matter where on the pitch it is committed. And that lesser fouls, which might not deserver a yellow card in some situations could be carded if they are ocmmitted in, say, an obvious goal scoring chance.

    Have I got it wrong? is it the case, as many seem to think, that if a defender gets the ball when tackling in the penatly, irrespective of how, that it should not be a penalty?

    Using yesterday as an example, Dindane was brought down because he defender was climbing all over him, then stuck a leg out, toe poked the ball and bindled him into the floor (OK, a bit of 'jouranalistic license there :o] ), but he impeded him illegally, but so many people think that because he managed to get a toe on the ball it was fine. What are your thoughts?

  • Comment number 71.

    It was a game when Spurs and their general dominance didn't really deserve to lose and Portsmouth and their full-blooded defending didn't really deserve to win. How frustrating that, in any other round of the competition, the 0-0 after 90mins would have led to a replay?

    Anyway, the most disappointing aspect of this whole cup-run is that, despite beating Southampton and Harry Redknapp's Spurs on the way to facing the club who treated Grant so harshly before, and despite Portsmouth being relegated, and despite the F.A. Cup win in 2008 being partially blamed for their current predicament, this amazing story is certain to fizzle out anticlimatically in a 4-0 beating by Chelsea.

    Best of luck Pompey. Rub of the green aside, I can't really begrudge a club like Portsmouth the chance at some glory. We'll just have to settle for the miracle of fourth place. ^_^

  • Comment number 72.

    Ooh, the sour grapes...

    The "cheats" comments are cheap and getting a bit tedious. It's interesting we only hear them after a bit of success (like yesterday) or when we dish out the occasional embarrassment to the likes of Liverpool. I don't hear the detractors pointing out that we've also cheated our way to some good old hidings from Man U & Chelsea. I don't see them saying we've cheated our way out of the Prem and into the Championship, and probably into League One as well. Perhaps we should be kicked out of football altogether, eh? Perhaps along with every other team whose players try to con refs, whose managers try to influence decisions, etc. etc.
    Put your dummies back in.

    The pitch certainly contributed more to the game than it should have done. Both bookings, and more than a few errors, but it was the same pitch for everyone on it.

    Refereeing decisions...yes we got a few, but the man in black has to call it as he sees it. We've been penalised before for the same shouts for handball that went unpunished yesterday. As for Palacios, well, one of the commentators on ITV pointed out that he may have got a toe on the ball. Fair enough, he may have done, but he also got two legs and an arm and a half on the player to bring him down, and when any ref sees that going on in the box it's a fair bet there's going to be some whistle action to follow. There's no question Crouch got the worst decision, but the whistle had gone before he'd teed up his shot. Blaming the ref for your team's defeat is a cheap and easy option. Again, I never hear anyone thanking the ref for their team's win... (insert cheap shot of your choice at SAF here)

    10 men behind the ball? Hell, yes. Wouldn't you, in a game like that? Personally, I thought we'd come unstuck doing that, particularly when Pavluychenko, and then Kranjcar came on. How we got away with that for nearly two hours I do not know, but Wilson, Rocha and James played out of their skins. The consensus among my Spurs mates was "same old Tottenham", "Pompey were up for it more", and they used the words "banjo" and "cow's a**e" a lot in relation to their strikers. Tottenham had a good 2/3 of the game and were unlucky to lose it, without a doubt, but for the first 90 minutes they had chance after chance after chance and made none of them count. I wish them well in their assault on the top 4. They've got 3 tough games coming up, and I hope they can do some damage.

    Avram Grant. Give the man some respect. The abuse he took from the Chelsea fans was nothing short of disgraceful. I said at the end of his season there we'd be happy to have him. He's conducted himself superbly in difficult times, instilled a fighting spirit in the team that was missing under Hart, and has pulled more than a few rabbits out of the hat. He may not be Mourinho, he might look like Dracula's uncle, but we love him. We'll probably get another hiding in the final, but I'll tell you this, Kranjcar's swagger (post 36), we will not roll over.







  • Comment number 73.

    Congratulations Jonathon Hewitt #68. At what point in any of my posts have I said the result was unfair? Maybe if you'd bothered to read them you would see I was commenting on someone else's post (#9) who had said that "...on the balance of play, they deserve their victory."

    My comments and quoting of statistics were to show how wrong that particular statement was and how wrong the poster was. At no point have I said the result was unfair. The best team on the day don't always win matches, that's the way football works and I can accept that. But Spurs certainly were the better side. Yes Portsmouth stuck to their game plan well, also had good chances and scored with 2 of them. They also had an awful lot of luck, luck alone certainly doesn't win you matches but it certainly puts you in a good position to do so.

    I also posted #47 as well as #28 so seeing as you're accusing me of 'suggesting the result was unfair' maybe you could have a look and let me know where I've said that? I think you'll find in both posts I've said I don't begrduge Portsmouth their win, they scored more goals that counted than we did. But in my opinion and judging by the stats they certainly didn't deserve it based on the balance of play.

  • Comment number 74.

    Im glad Pompey won this, good luck to them, its nice to see a bit of romance in the cup.

    However.

    Again, as said here, the referee gets the big decisions WRONG.

    Booked players when they sliped up due to the rubbish surface. Do refs not take these things into account? They are PROFESSIONALS? They should act like Professionals. they get paid like Professionals. Yet, even i, a NON Professional referee would take this into account when seeing these incidents. He didnt. Its just incompetence! No excuse.

    Also, the dissalowed goal from Crouch! Why? What exactly was wrong? Nothing. Incompetence!

    And the penalty! Well this needs to be clarified a lot more clearly. I believe the rules dont clarify it clrearly enough or they are interpreted incorrectly.

    If you get the ball, if you get a contact on the ball, then its a GOOD TACKLE - UNLESS - UNLESS, the man is clearly taken way before the ball or in the process of the ball being taken, its taken in a dangerous or ungentlemanly manner. Otherwise for me - its never a foul.

  • Comment number 75.

    Who cares about the state of the pitch when its got a nice "arc" feature going over the top of the stadium that changes colour at night. Looks great from the Central line.

    American footie, motor racing, horse shows, concerts & other jolly good events are well within their rights to blame football for the state of the pitch for their events one might argue.

    Hang on it's "The home of football"........? Oops.

    If you can run wildly over budget, miss all completion deadlines & have a final product that is not fit for use, then Wembley surely is the prime example.

    Perhaps these other events are required to service the debts incurred by running over budget. Either way, the FA will probably need employ a "Pitch disaster recovery team" at rediculous costs to try & fix the problem. Or even better, outsource it to someone else who's supposedly "cheaper".

    Still, they could always play the final in Asia.


  • Comment number 76.

    Firstly, I just want to say well done to Portsmouth. What an awful season but what a way to end it. An FA Cup Final is some achievment with the problems they've had on and off the field.

    But I have a question, I have heard there has been some shocking refereeing this weekend, and everyone has the right to come out and complain. Recently when I've been reading this Man Utd fans are shot down for even criticising refereeing decisions, but when other fans do it, not a lot is said. So what is everyone's problem when United fans are only telling the truth? Its about time people are finally realising that the standard of refereeing in this country and the rest of the world is not up to scratch. In fact its a damn right disgrace. Its probably the toughest job to do to get every decision right, and when the linesman don't help the official or they get a decision wrong, it does not the help them in anyway or does them no favours. Something needs to change, and the FA really need to tackle this problem. I've said it before not on here but to people, these big decisions that referees make are costing teams when it comes down to going through in the FA Cup or Champions League, winning the league, or getting promoted or even getting relegated. The standard needs to be better. Its become a joke and will continue to remain that way if something is not done about it.

  • Comment number 77.

    Lets switch the cup semis back to neutral venues like we used to villa park, old trafford etc, much better. Both semis were poor ruined by bad ref decisions again.

  • Comment number 78.

    When asked in their presentation as to why the World Cup in 2018 should be held on that pitch, the FA said " Dont worry Sepp, the Met Office have given us a long range forecast, and they say it will be dry"

    Worried about the pitch being overused ? "Dont worry Sepp, the annual tractor pulling competition has been brought forward 24 hours so the pitch has got 48 hours to recover"

    Does that pitch not say everything about the FA ?

    Any political party who said they would disband the FA would be doing football a favour

  • Comment number 79.

    My heartiest congratulations to Portsmouth, facing a never-ending nightmare of a season but still plodding on. How many teams possess just such a character? There are many players who ought to be ashamed of personal attitudes towards the game.

    Will Grant inevitably fall to his former employers? The true enjoyment for those of us who love the FA Cup is the romance behind it. There's no better organized knockout tournament, rich in history, and a level playing field for all involved. On any given day, even the mightiest can fall to minnows. I will not write off the Pompey story and will root for them with all vim and gusto.

    I agree that Grant actually epitomizes his team's true spirit. What amount of cheer this forgotten man of soccer brings to a beleaguered squad. I can only imagine. I don't want to get as carried away as this story but there's lots of inspiration, hope and encouragement any team can derive from Pompey's season.

    If soccer is truly the beautiful game, such stories rank right up there with technical excellence on the pitch. Heroes and legends, after all, are born from adversity. I once more congratulate Portsmouth and pray they go that extra mile and lift the FA Cup.

  • Comment number 80.

    Being a Chelsea fan, I have to congratulate Avram Grant for getting Portsmouth to the FA Cup Final. I'm sure that Avram is a proud man, he did his utmost at Chelsea after taking over from José Mourinho. The current batch of players and staff (Excluding any that have taken Pompey to almost financial ruin) should be proud too. After Chelsea had gone through against Villa, I was certain that Tottenham would reach the final - more in the hope that we could avenge 1967 and 2008!

    Regarding both games at Wembley, why do Semi Finals have to be staged there? I think that I heard somewhere that the pitch has had to be re-laid in the order of ten times since the new stadium opened? Tell me, was I dreaming that, or is that for real?

    The pitch spoilt both games as a spectacle over the weekend and IMO, the Semi Finals should go back to neutral venue's, excluding Wembley. Obviously Wembley is used to generate more funds for the FA, but are we now going to have an FA Cup Final where players are slipping and sliding all over the place too? FA, get the pitch in order, not just for the FA Cup Final but other games too, it is becoming a farce.

  • Comment number 81.

    Firstly, congrats to Pompey. Roy Of The Rovers would be chuffed to have got to an FA Cup final after such a soap opera of a season! Spurs were very unlucky to have their "equaliser" ruled out, but then again it was a penalty just as much as Villa should have had a penalty in the other semi, so Pompey would still have won 2-1.
    Neutrals have all been bigging up Roy Hodgson for Manager of the Season, but if the equally dignified Avram Grant actully guides Portsmouth to an amazingly unlikely FA Cup win he could well deserve the award more!

  • Comment number 82.

    To all the spurs fans that have complained about the referee and the pitch, you were hard done by but stop with the sour grapes. This is the beauty of the FA Cup and is the glimmer of hope that all the little teams take with them year on year.

    From the start our players came out of the tunnel with passion and hunger, something all the big teams can learn from. It's not the dog in the fight it's the fight in the dog. We fielded a collection of players likened to the dirty dozen, written off by the leagues elite, bookies and going into a game that the whole nation beleived was a one horse race. In my eyes every one of those players are worthy of a medal!

    I was at the game and for both teams it was nail biting stuff, it was clear that our tactic was to stop spurs from playing football and I feel we achieved that throughout 120 minutes. The statistics look great for spurs on paper but thats all they are, for every effort on goal a pompey player matched with an effort to stop it. We looked great on the counter biding our time for each opportunity, as we have done all season we just ran out of ideas in front of goal and lacked a clinical finish (for the 90).

    BTW: Nobody has mentioned the two or three hand ball incuidents that could have changed the game.

    Will we win the cup? Probably not, but that is irrelevant to reach the final is an amazing achievment in it's own right, one that I will remember to the end of my days.

  • Comment number 83.

    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Gareth Bale's performance, it was superb! To be Spurs' main creative force while playing left back takes some doing he never stopped running and crossing the ball for 2 hours of the match. Far and away the best player on the pitch how Ricardo Rocha got man of the match is beyond me. Not sure what Modric and Bentley were doing throughout the game though.

  • Comment number 84.

    83 - Gareth Bale - Shame he's Welsh, would certainly give Cashley a run for his money, although if Cashley thinks someone's running for his money, he'll out-sprint them any day!

  • Comment number 85.

    I'm genuinely delighted for Avram Grant and Pompey fans. The mess that Portsmouth are in is in no way their fault and if Grant stays, i have no doubt they'll win the Championship next year.

    Grant deserves tremendous credit for keeping a sense of perspective the day before he took part in the March Of The Living at Auschwitz.

    Football clubs need to be run properly, but aside from the fact that as a game, it pays the salaries of many thousands of people, it is ultimately only a game.

    To have watched Portsmouth play that game yesterday with such dignity, passion and under the watchful eye of such brilliant leadership is something that I hope Pompey fans feel deeply proud of.

    And to Spurs fans... you have had an off day in an otherwise brilliant season ... that's all!

  • Comment number 86.

    @Jza_the_Genius:

    You're absolutewly right about the quality of Bale's performance. It took two of our players to struggle to come close to containing him. And there werwe many occasions that they didn't and meny where they only just made enough of a nuisance to put him off a bit.

    Truly a class performance.

    On the subject of Rocha: he was as rock solid a center back as you're likely to see. On that day. I wish he played like that every week. i think it's difficult to copmare the two, they requirements were so wildly different. I wouldn't have wanted to make the call. :o)

  • Comment number 87.

    Credit to Harry Redknapp, he has been much more gracious in defeat than some of the Spurs fans on here - and the ones who couldn't even stay to the end of the game to applaud their team. I agree that the Crouch 'goal' on another day would have stood, but 'keepers are overprotected these days and that's not the first time we have seen a decision of that sort. For me, the penalty was the right decision - getting a toe to the ball doesn't take away from the fact that he took the player first.

    I guess it's the right of the losing team to have a moan - I would do the same if the situation was reversed, but equally it is our right as the winning team not to care about statistics, referees or anything else other than the fantastic feeling of having something to smile about for once! PUP

  • Comment number 88.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    Anyone interested in why the Wembley pitch is so bad, read the above article. Explains everything perfectly.

  • Comment number 89.

    @ #83

    I am a Portsmouth fan, so I have been seriously talking up some of our individual performaces from yesterday, but Gareth Bale was on a different planet yesterday. He has looked a sensational player the last few months and Spurs have a real talent on their hands.

    As for the rest of it, any Portsmouth fan who says we didn't get a bit lucky is deluding themselves. Crouch's goal probably should have stood and the penalty wasn't exactly clear cut. However, by hook or by crook, we are there, and after the season we have had as fans, there is no way that anyone can say we don't deserve this.

    Every single player in blue yesterday played their socks off. Ricardo Rocha, discarded by Spurs and brought in as a free agent. What a performance, I honestly did not think he had it in him. I could go through each player but I am on my lunch break.

    For the person saying we have had an easy route to the final, I can hardly call Birmingham and Tottenham easy teams to face. Get a grip and stop being bitter.

    Lastly, Avram Grant. One John Terry slip away from winning the Champions League, and he comes to us and proves he is still a top manager. After what he has done for us this season, getting us to the cup final and playing some good football again, he can decide whether he stays with us in the Championship or not. He will be a legend, regardless.


    PUP PPU. :)

  • Comment number 90.

    At 08:15am on 12 Apr 2010, andy wrote:

    "So expect a chelsea win, success again for anti football, we are all losers in this."

    Wow. What an idiotic comment. Because we are financially secure and Portsmouth are not, a Chelsea victory (which is by no means guaranteed; especially with the league as our priority and, pride aside, the league being meaningless to Portsmouth) would be anti-football?

    Please think about what you've written and think before you press 'Post Comment' next time.

  • Comment number 91.

    Where does all this ridiculous sympathy for Portsmouth come from? What a great job Grant has done!? What, leading them safely to relegation but on a nice cup run... amazing.

    Bad ground, bad players, nothing club, good riddance. Don't even sell all their tickets to most games. There are many many more clubs who do actually deserve sympathy.

    Almost as bad as that awful commentator on ITV, "from adversity comes greatness"... "from darkness comes the light"... etc etc. Worst commentator going. He tries far too hard.

  • Comment number 92.

    Pompey fan here and I'm so proud of the team, patched up with walking wounded and still Spurs can't beat us. I don't care if we don't win the cup, we put Harry out which is all we wanted. Forget champions league, you can't beat a championship team!

    I've got to raise a point which annoys me about finances in the premier league, Pompey "live above their means" with a £60m debt yet Man Utd have a £600m debt and that's somehow fine? You know what they say about glass houses to those Utd fans who criticise us.

  • Comment number 93.

    I'm surprised that people are saying there are lots of Spurs fans on here being less than gracious in defeat. There's hardly any that have come on here and had a big rant. There's a couple sure but that's to be expected isn't it? To say there's a lot of sour grapes seems a bit much. I think you'll find most on here have said the same thing that Spurs didn't take their chances whereas Portsmouth did and that's why they're in the final. No the ref didn't have a good performance but if this had happened to United, Arsenal or Liverpool these boards would be filled with comments from people saying Wiley should never referee another match again.

    I mean I've gone through all the posts and there's only about 7 or 8 if that which you could say were from people having a big moan. Less than 10%, it's hardly like Spurs fans have come on here in their droves to moan and whinge.

  • Comment number 94.

    First, I'm not a Portsmouth fan. Or a Spurs fan.
    I'm delighted that Portsmouth won.
    But
    For me the game was ruined - not by the pitch, although it was appalling - but by the refereeing.
    How is it that we have £100,000 a week players, £800 million stadiums but we still have games decided by refereeing "mistakes"? I'm not so concerned about the penalty awarded - Spurs were already a goal down and there was very little time to go. But the free-kick for the "foul" on David James was a joke. Keepers have been over-protected for far too long, but this was way-beyond that. James jumped into the Spurs player, who was simply waiting for the cross to arrive and got free-kick! This was not a decision of split-second timing - "did he get the ball before the player" or "did the ball cross the line" - it was a matter of policy - the keeper collided with someone, he must get a free kick! We need to eradicate this type of thinking out of football as it has become a farce.
    There is NO excuse not to use video replays for this type of incident. We need an independent "ref" - not associated with the Referees Association (or whatever they're called) who can adjudicate on these type of calls. It would only take a few seconds and the game has stopped anyway.
    After the game, the ref should acknowledge that he got it wrong and the Referees Association should make it clear to all refs that a free-kick should not automatically be given just because the keeper collides with an opposition player.

  • Comment number 95.

    @ Quayfee

    I thought Rocha was excellent just goes to show what a Portuguese international defender can do if they put their mind to it.

  • Comment number 96.

    Fair play to the press for having the ability to whip up the drama around the FA Cup this year, but let's face it, Portsmouth aren't that bad a team anyway so why the big shock in them beating Spurs? Ok so they are relegated, deservedly being docked 9 points for mismanagement didn't help, but without all these goings on and had they been concentrating solely on their football would they really have been relegated? Debatable. All eleven of the players Portsmouth named yesterday have decent Premier League experience, some international. I had to laugh before kick-off when certain commentators were descibing it as a game Portsmouth could not win. Bit of a joke really and slightly disrespectful to some of that Portsmouth team. I for one am looking forward to my club nabbing a few of them come end of the season, they'd walk into our eleven!

  • Comment number 97.

    Dear or dear...

    Was this the best cynical reply you could think of?

    POMPEY are there on merit, I noticed you referred to our spending and didn't refer to the 3 BILLION pound debt of the EPL, hypocrite.

    Our club has been stripped bare by cheats and money makers

    We'll LOL when the same thing happens to you;-)








    -----------

    I think Mr McNulty you are falling into a trap around Portsmouth FA Cup run. Even after the chaos of 2009-10 they still have a squad predominatily acquired by financial mismanagement and false prospectus. They have struggled in the league through bad managers, Hart and to a lesser extent Grant. That they now give us the ultimate "plague on both your houses" final is more to do with luck and bad refereeing (Wiley made two bad calls). For Portsmouth to win a second FA Cup in a period they proberbly should have gone out of business says more about modern football's distorted soul than any other outcome.

  • Comment number 98.

    "Bad ground, bad players, nothing club, good riddance. Don't even sell all their tickets to most games. There are many many more clubs who do actually deserve sympathy."

    Actually the home tickets are regularly sold out, it's the away stand that's never full.

  • Comment number 99.

    Kudos to Grant and Portmouth.Now time for a reality check, if Chelsea win by less than 5 goals they can have the FA Cup !!

  • Comment number 100.

    This is a great story, full of twists and turns and drama. It is great for the Pompey supporters that they get a moment of glory in a turgid season. It is great for the players that have a chance to fight for something they actually have control over.

    But, is it going to be the showpiece final that the whole world watches and looks at in awe of English football? Refs decisions and dodgy pitches aside, we could have had Tottenham v Villa. Teams that like to play and have a lot of English players, great advert for the EPL.

    I am happy for Portsmouth though, especially as they beat Spurs! I'll be cheering for them in the Final!

 

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