The immediate reaction from Portsmouth fans yesterday, at the confirmation that they have their fourth owner in less than four years, was qualified delight and relief.
The next response was a plea, not for a wild spending spree in January, but for stability. Having looked into the abyss, Pompey fans have become the latest to appreciate that a club should live within their means. Ali al-Faraj may have the wealth of Croesus, and be prepared to gift his millions rather than loan them, but until that is proven the consensus was that the club should spend carefully.
Some of this restraint was because there is a growing confidence that Paul Hart, and his squad, are not far off being a side that can hold their own in the Premier League. The table may look grim, with three points from 24, but performances have been better than results for some weeks as Hart's hastily reshaped team has begun to gel. Saturday's victory over Wolverhampton at Molineux was overdue reward.
Having twice seen Portsmouth this season I concur. They played better at Arsenal than the 4-1 defeat suggested and outplayed Everton despite losing 1-0. That match was typical. Pompey are not being hammered. Five of their defeats have been by the odd goal, four of them 1-0.
Defensively Portsmouth have been reasonable considering they lack a quality left-back and most weeks are fielding eight players who are new to each other. The problem has been scoring goals, but in Aruna Dindane Hart has recruited an excellent player who only lacks match sharpness. The under-rated Tommy Smith is a clever foil to the Ivorian and Kevin-Prince Boateng, so awful at Tottenham, is suddenly showing signs of being a £5.4m player after all.
Portsmouth will have to spend in January because the squad lacks depth, which could be a particular problem during the African Nations Cup with John Utaka, Kanu and Dindane likely to be involved. In addition the on-loan Jamie O'Hara is likely to return to Spurs.
In the meantime Portsmouth need to climb the table, to lift the current squad's confidence and make it easier to bring players in. They have a relatively kind run of fixtures. After Harry Redknapp returns with Spurs on 17 October they face Hull (a), Wigan (h), Blackburn (a) and Stoke (a). As Birmingham, in 14th, are only four points ahead, Pompey could soon be back in the pack.
At this stage last season Spurs were bottom with only two points. They finished 8th. Hull were third with 17 points. They survived relegation by a point. It is early days. As long as Faraj remains calm, and is prepared to stand by Hart, Portsmouth should survive.
Then the club can start looking to the future, and finally build the much-mooted, and desperately needed, new ground and training base. Because one aspect is clear from the recent turmoil. Without investment on infrastructure Portsmouth will not defy economic gravity for ever.Reuse content