Portsmouth 2 City 0

If Portsmouth could have hand-picked opponents for a moment of the season so loaded with importance, the list would surely have started with ­Manchester and ended with City. Here, in a 90-minute exhibition of drabness, was a perfect explanation as to why Mark Hughes's team have won only once away from home all season.
>>guardian.co.uk

Could yesterday be explained any more succinctly?

Given a recent spell of more positive form and points return, I really did think the Portsmouth was a pivotal game to show the progress we are making.

With ours being the only Premier League game yesterday, we had the opportunity to banish our away day blues and move up to seventh in the table. Despite the sacking of Tony Adams - which you would assume would galvanise the team, I was confident of the victory.

How wrong I was.

It was both a result and performance that was clearly as frustrating as it was disappointing, another sign that we are taking one step forward then one step backwards.

The City blogs have been out in force in the wake of the defeat, and you'd imagine knives are sharpening all over as given the transfer window has closed, the focus falls firmly back onto Mark Hughes.
What was of concern is Mark Hughes's post match comments:

"Today's performance was not anywhere near the level we needed to be. You have got to roll your sleeves up when you come to places like this to battle for what you , and on occasions we were lacking in that respect.

"You have got to be strong and stand up to the challenge, but we allowed them to take the initiative. You will concede goals as a result of that, and this is the hardest league in the world. At times we forget that, certainly away from home.

"Other teams will not allow you to play, not allow your technically gifted players to have an influence on the game. You have to find another way, get a performance from within and take something from every performance. Today was a performance where some players did not perform to their capabilities, and that is a frustration for everybody.

"This was a setback, but we have to pick ourselves up and make sure we are in better shape for our upcoming games."

Yesterday's result and performance it seems was nothing new from what has already been seen this season, yet (and perhaps in a similar vein to Sven) there doesn't appear to be a plan or formation to overcome the wretched away form that has seen us win just once away from home all season. Yet again yesterday, we saw the same changes and alterations that have not worked for the most part of the season.

Away from home we have scored only 14 goals in these 12 games, being shut out 4 times - a terrible return given the attacking options and threat that we possess.

If Hughes is the man to take us forward (and he at least believes he is) then he needs to be able to deliver the answers as I'm certain that if there is no progress come the end of the season, his position will be very much in question.



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