Season Review: Portsmouth

Last updated : 02 June 2009 By Mark 'from Oz'

How did your season go? Did Portsmouth finish where you expected them to?
Not after the recent success we had enjoyed. However, looking back on things - players being sold, the team being unbalanced, 3 managers in one season - our position is probably about where we could have expected to be if we're being realistic.

Who was Portsmouth's player of the year?
The almost unanimous choice seems to be Glen Johnson, and I'd have to agree. He was on form when we were playing poorly, and continued that form when the rest of the team was also playing well. He has matured as a player and as a person, and probably enjoyed the best season of his career thus far. England's first choice for right-back and rightly so - a player we need to try and hold onto, as I can't see where we'll pick up an equal replacement without forking out good money.

Crouch worked hard all year, but struggled once Defoe left and we reverted to playing 4-5-1 every week.

Belhadj started brightly and, had he continued his early form, may have been in the running. Went a bit flat due to various reasons. Will want to stamp his name on the team next year with some more electric displays.

Who were the best players you saw play against Portsmouth?
All comers:
1. Ronaldinho, easily the best player to grace FP this season... He transformed the game against Milan within 2 minutes of coming on.

Premier League, no particular order:
1. Torres. Tore us apart when we thought the game was won.
2. Heskey. 30 seconds of brilliance. Out-muscled our big boys and slotted Jamo.
3. Greening from West Brom. Too good for the Fizzy Pop.
4. Nicky Butt, Newcaste. Shame to be surrounded by so much dross
5. Martins, Newcastle. I'd love it, absoluely love it if he came down here.

FA Cup:
1. The whole Swansea team. Real flair. Made us look second rate, which we were at the time.

What did you make of Hull City?
Started brightly. They'd be a bit worried about the way they finished the season, but probably deserved to stay up for their 'nothing to lose' approach early on. The difficult 2nd season looms ahead now. Well-identified and sensible transfers could be the difference between survival and relegation next season, with, in my opinion, a couple of strong-ish teams coming up from the Championship.

Where do you need to strengthen this summer?
With the takeover announcement, this is hard to answer. Before the takeover, I would have said we need to hold onto as many 1st team players as possible, then probably bring in cover for the central defence pairing, a creative midfielder, and 1 proven striker at the bare minimum - with the midfield needing the most reinforcement.

Now, we don't know whether there will still be a large clearout, or whether the existing core of the team will be the priority for the new direction of the club. If we keep the core, the midfield is the weak point of the team/squad. If there's a clearout, we'll have to wait and see how players are shuffled around.

Who'll be on their way out?
Again, depends on the direction of the club. I think at a bare minimum, the following will go:

  • Djimi Traore (Hasn't featured, wants to stay at Birmingham)
  • Armond Traore (Loan finished - although would be a good pickup if we could get him on loan for another season if he's not in Wenger's plans)
  • Pele (Loan finished, has been mostly injured. Doesn't appear to be in anyone's plans)
  • Glen Little (Hasn't featured lately - thanks for your efforts, but sorry it didn't work out)
  • Jerome Thomas (Injured for most of season, hasn't featured)
  • Lauren (Hasn't featured, will be cut to save wages)
  • Jamie Ashdown (Seems to now be 3rd choice keeper - good luck to him elsewhere, I'm sure he'll get a regular 1st team spot)
  • Pennant (Loan finished, probably not worth the 50k a week)
  • Mveumba (Hasn't featured, doesn't appear to be part of plans - shame)

 I also think that the following MAY go:

  • Hreidarsson (Might be after more than a 1 year contract, the club may have other ideas due to his age)
  • Campbell (Wages may still be an issue despite the new ownership, and his age)
  • Sean Davis (Been linked with plenty of sides, seems to be holding out for a better contract despite an improved contract being offered)
  • John Utaka (Is largely unpopular, could go either way)
  • Nugent (Hasn't played in a while, doubts about his Premiership quality)
  • Linvoy Primus (Club legend, now that he's allowed a testimonial without having to play a 10th year, he may be encouraged into moving into an off-field role with his reputation intact, it'd be sad to see him pushing his body a year too far).

Portsmouth's best 11 of the season?
My picks, in a standard 4-4-2. I'm sure there'll be 1 or 2 (or more) controversial picks:

Johnson Campbell Distin Belhadj
Pennant Diop Diarra Traore
Crouch Defoe

GK: David James. Had some rocky moments, but picked things up towards the end. Was playing with a shoulder injury, which puts the focus on a couple of goals where he seemingly looked reluctant to stretch.
LB: Tough one, but Belhadj gets the nod for me, ahead of Hermann, on the condition that he's teamed up with Armand Traore on the left hand side. Hermann is an old head, and part of what Adams and later Hart called for when struggling to plug gaps elsewhere on the pitch. He did a solid job, and I can't question his commitment or passion one bit. But we as a side looked far more potent with Belhadj and Traore teaming up down the left - we had A.C. Milan running scared. Hopefully he can follow in Glen Johnson's footsteps and work on cutting down those defensive lapses in his game.
CB: Sol Campbell. Copped a lot of flak and looked very slow at times. However, you can clearly see the footballing brain he possesses, his anticipation and positioning being his key strengths.
CB: Sylvain Distin. One of the players who was most affected by the uncertainty surrounding the club off-field. Redeemed himself with some late season performances, although still has the occasional lapse in concentration. Still, the combo of his athleticism and Campbell's awareness is probably good enough to go one more season - with Kaboul beginning to play an increased role under their mentorship.
RB: Glen Johnson. Cut down on his defensive lapses, was often our most creative outlet going forward, scored some classy goals, and can hold his head high as one of the only players to keep his calm when the world seemed to be falling down around him.
LM: Armand Traore. Unfortunately, he and Belhadj were broken apart as part of the attempts to stem the flow of silly late goals (despite the blame arguably being mostly elsewhere). Terrorised the opposition when played as a duo. Would love to see us pick him up for another season or, now that we have money to spend, permanently. Could really blossom with the right nurturing.
CM: Diop. Played out of position for so long by Redknapp, he had his chance to show us what he's really capable of when given a chance in the centre of the park. We truly missed his presence, his badgering of the opposition, and the hilarity of watching him shoot each week!
CM: Diarra. How could we not pick him? Incredible ability on the ball, a real terrier and possibly the finest talent to play at FP. Shame he went to an under performing Real Madrid team.
RM: Glen Johnson, again - I would pick him here as well as right back if I could. But I guess It'll have to be Pennant. Really a weak point of the team. The role was shared around between Pennant, Little, Mullins, Davis and Nugent - but noone to me screams "Pick me in your starting 11". Not in this right-sided position, at least.
Forward (Targetman-role): Peter Crouch. I have to put him in for his effort. Did what he could with very little support, didn't stop trying, and will surely be hoping that he has a regular partner alongside him next season. As a team I think we became too reliant on bombing it forward to Crouch, but he can't do much about that.
Forward (out and out Striker/Poacher): Jermain Defoe. Taking all emotion out of the equation, we missed him. He and Crouch may not have looked the most natural or comfortable pairing, but they were banging in the goals. He was also capable of finding the goal when given only a sniff. Can be accused of being 'greedy', but I think that sometimes goes hand in hand with the deadly poaching type of forward - he wants to be scoring.

Mark From Oz writes for the MyPompey website