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Portsmouth – The Downfall Cometh?

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This time, COS reader Oli reckons Portsmouth struggles are nothing to worry about.

Having yet to win in the Premiership in 2007, and with only 2 points in the last 7 games, questions are being raised about the Portsmouth team.

Do Portsmouth have what it takes to push for Europe?
Should Campbell become captain?
Should Redknapp have bought in January?
When will Portsmouth win?
Will any players get called up for the England squad?

These questions will be discussed in the following paragraphs…

There is no doubt that Portsmouth deserve to be where they are, on their form in the first half of the season. Their form of late has dropped, but any team can go through a rough patch. The extremely worrying fact, however, is that they still have to play all the big teams, albeit at home. This could cause a problem on the south coast. Having studied Portsmouth’s previous season performances, there is an argument for why they will get into Europe. Every season in which they have been in the Barclay’s Premiership, Portsmouth have finished in blistering form. If this was to happen not only would they get a lot of points, but they would also be taking points off of other European hopefuls, such as Everton and Reading.

Baring this in mind, and regarding the strong team that Harry Redknapp has at his disposal, it would not be a surprise at all to see Portsmouth in the European spots come the end of the season.

Looking at their recent performances, there is no evidence to prove whether Gary O’Neil should be the captain or not. A strong case for the England hopeful, is that not only does he have a lot of passion for the team, but rival captain candidate, Sol Campbell, can’t really get much better. You have to ask the question will it make much difference to Campbell’s, and Pompey’s, performance were Sol to be the captain. It could also be said that this captain debate is just a scapegoat, shifting the blame from the relatively abysmal performances of the players of late.

People who criticise Harry for not buying enough in January might just be overlooking some very important signings. Djimi Traore, despite the bad publicity he gets, has performed consistently well since moving south, and looks like being a fantastic squad player, if not first-team. Arnold Mvuemba, who little is known about, first made an impression on Harry
several years ago, when the Pompey manager went to visit a youth tournament in France. Mvuemba was apparently by far and away the stand out player, and with Manuel Fernandes not signing permanently, Mvuemba might just prove to be what is needed to push for Europe.

Finally, Lauren (a.k.a Ralph). If someone told you this time last year, or even in the summer, that Lauren would be on Pompey’s books, you wouldn’t have believed them. The truth is that Lauren is a world class player. Whether or not he is playing in his best position at the moment, he is as good a signing that any of us could have hoped for. In addition, they might not be new signings, but Rodolphe Doala has been extremely impressive recently, and also Niko Kranjcar has always looked lively when he has appeared. Given a run in the team, I would be surprised if either, or both, of these players prove as effective to the team as D’Alessandro was last year.

When will Portsmouth win is a stupid question. We will win, but we are just going through a bad spell. We as fans are expecting too much from the team too soon. If we just believe in the team and watch out for complacency we should be back to winning ways very soon. Also, now that we do not have the FA Cup to worry about, we can use this to our advantage to keep our players fit.

It is just a matter of time until some Pompey players are called up to the England squad. McClaren has publicly said that he has “opened the door for David James and Sol Campbell”, whereas with both Ashley Cole and Wayne Bridge injured it should only be a matter of time until Matty Taylor is called up – provided he keeps performing immaculately. Steve McClaren also tried to lure O’Neil to Boro’ before taking up the England post, so it should not be too long before Gary O’ is heavily considered for England.

With this in mind, let’s hope for better times in the future, and more importantly, Play Up Pompey!