Football is a funny business.
A season changes, and sentimentality can go out the window nearly as fast it came in.
Last season, Portsmouth had the good fortune to bring Ireland's #1 goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu to the south coast for a season-long loan. It was a mutually-beneficial partnership.
Bazunu was incredible for Pompey. When the season ended Portstmouth manager Danny Cowley expressed his bafflement that Bazunu wasn't the League One goalkeeper of the season.
"I don't know who makes those decisions. How? Just tell me how he didn't get in the team? Whoever picks it, I don't know, it is one of the most ridiculous decisions ever."
Bazunu's highlight reel for Portsmouth is bewildering.
At the end of the season, Bazunu made the decision to move from Man City to Portsmouth's neighbours, Southampton. It would be wrong to call the two clubs rivals. Southampton are practically a permanent fixture in the Premier League's midtable these days. Portsmouth sit two divisions down the ladder. However there are 20 miles between the two grounds, and a lot of history between the two clubs and supporters.
Southampton's admin definitely enjoyed the signing of Bazunu given his success with Pompey.
And while it was entirely predictable, there was still something lamentable about the flurry of cheer from corners of Portsmouth fandom in the aftermath of Southampton getting shellacked 4-1 by Spurs today, in Bazunu's Premier League debut.
Of the four goals conceded, three were beyond most keepers. After the game, Ralph Hassenhuetl said the experience would be important for Bazunu and the other debutantes who played today.
“I think a few good things I’ve seen from the guys and a few things they have to learn. Overall, it was important for them to take the first step and see immediately what the Premier League is about."
It's a setback for Bazunu, but only a small one. Spurs are one of the best teams in the Premier League; Southampton are in transition. Not surprisingly, a quick scan of Pompey twitter gives a sense of the chipper mood about the result.
— Mike Shipp (@mikeshipp1971) August 6, 2022
I 4-1 would hate to be Bazunu today! #pompey
— The Port’s Mouth (@The_P0rts_Mouth) August 6, 2022
What a debut Bazunu is having 😍😍 come on Pompey seal this wonderful Saturday afternoon off with a win! #Pompey
— Kai (@Pompey__) August 6, 2022
Gavin Bazunu, welcome to the prem 😎
— Jack Chadbourne (@thejacksvn) August 6, 2022
Great debut for Bazunu today 😂😂
— Cameron the Beeney (@cameronbeeney) August 6, 2022
That's just a sampling.
It's not to say that every Portsmouth fan has it in for the Tallaght 'keeper. But on a day that Portsmouth drew 0-0 to Lincoln City, the scoreline of Southampton's defeat offered some joy. However, we are pushing up against the limits of football tribalism here. For a season, Portsmouth fans had the privilege of watching a phenom in goal. They know better than anyone that Bazunu has a massive career ahead of him. Bazunu did not move to Southampton with any malice. It's not like he played in a South Coast derby. The two clubs exist in different galaxies.
Acknowledging all of the natural disdain that arises from watching a beloved player in the enemy's kit, wouldn't it be nice if the pull of affection was stronger than kneejerk scorn, for one week at least?