Wins stack up and records tumble for Paul Cook’s Pompey

Michael Smith, centre, is congratulated by his team-mates after his match-winner againsy Carlisle on Saturday  Picture: Joe Pepler
Michael Smith, centre, is congratulated by his team-mates after his match-winner againsy Carlisle on Saturday Picture: Joe Pepler

That glorious 2002-03 league season remains imperious, untouched and surely unlikely to be equalled.

As for the second-finest campaign of the past 19 years – you are currently witnessing it.

In terms of wins and points, this is the best league season since those halcyon days of Paul Merson, Svetoslav Todorov, Matt Taylor and Arjan De Zeeuw.

Pompey victory over Carlisle last weekend presented Paul Cook’s side with their 17th win of the League Two campaign.

Still plenty more required in order to barge into those automatic promotion spots which are still five points away, albeit with a game in hand.

But the current league win tally represents not only the highest for 13 years, but also the second greatest since 1997.

Behind only Harry Redknapp’s Division One title-winners and their 29 triumphs, of course.

Granted, Pompey claimed the FA Cup in 2008 at Wembley – in addition to recording a top-flight high for more than half a century.

Then there was a maiden foray into European competition, producing wonderful nights against AC Milan and Guimaraes.

However, in terms of purely league campaigns, statistics demonstrate there has not been one better at Fratton Park during the past 13 years.

And with seven fixtures remaining and those promotion hopes still strong, there is every opportunity for it to become even more memorable.

Similarly, the present points tally of 66 is the best since 2002-03.

Of course, such claims must be balanced by the fact those seven Premier League campaigns during that period each involved 38 matches – compared to 46 outside of the top flight.

Certainly more opportunity for those Blues sides to rack up an increased number wins and points.

Yet with 12 of the last 19 campaigns having taken place away from the top flight, the current 66 point haul has been bettered only once.

As ever, the 2002-03 squad are comfortably ahead with 98 points.

In the subsequent time frame there have been point deductions in 2009-10, 2011-12 and 2012-13 as consequences of the club’s ongoing financial problems.

Each campaign ended in relegation, yet even without those point deductions the totals were vastly inferior.

Looking back to 1996-97 under Terry Fenwick, Pompey finished seventh in Division One – three points outside the play-offs.

They also picked up 20 victories and 68 points, with 17-goal Lee Bradbury crowned as player of the year ahead of a £3m summer move to Manchester City.

In the ensuing seasons, only Redknapp’s promotion side have eclipsed such league figures.

Victory at Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday, however, will see Cook’s side beat Fenwick’s 68-point return, which is presently two out of reach.

That in itself would represent Pompey’s second-highest points tally in 23 years – with six fixtures remaining.

As ever, a certain side from 13 seasons ago stylishly lead the rest of the pack.