Date: 2nd August 2009 at 9:36am
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Pompey were giving a roasting by Benfica last night, instantly after this Paul Hart spoke to The Pompey Site about his thoughts on this mauling, and it was a mauling lets be honest – we could easily have lost by more than the 4-0 final result…

Hart on the 4-0 defeat

‘Considering the situation I think we did well to keep it to four.

‘The lads worked hard in a very difficult situation. It was Benfica’s 16th game, so I’ve absolutely no criticism of them.

‘We got some more fitness work in. We were put under severe pressure all over the pitch which I think we’ll benefit from.’

Containment always seemed to be the name of the game before hand, and clearly given these thoughts that was the case – although it was pretty evident to be honest, and thankfully, from a morale point of view it was not any worse than 4-0 as this would have had go through that breaking point, which some are reaching, others have already gone through…

Clearly Benfica are much more advanced with their pre-season training, so fitness will be much higher but the gulf in quality was clear to see… We had some moments but an air of dejection was soon cast over the players, some more so than others, but if nothing else this should act as a wake-up call, right?

Hart on ‘what we can take from the game’

‘They all worked tremendously hard. I’m just looking at what they can get from that game rather than the result.

‘Distin, Kaboul, Belhadj, Kranjcar – I think those players did tremendously well.

‘We know where we are and we know what we still have to do.’

Is it safe to assume that these four are almost certain to be in his starting 11 when we play Fulham? Mentioning some by name ahead of others would suggest so.

Sylvan Distin and Younes Kaboul must strike up an understanding, this will be essential for us that they do and there are some signs that they can/will – Distin appeared to lead the side well, which is a plus but Kaboul made stupid and needless errors at times again, errors that can and will need to be cut out.

Nadir Belhadj was the same, made needless errors that on the whole we escaped with – he is still such an exciting – sorry not ‘exiting’, even if unpredictable talent and one that I feel we probably need to keep around as there are not many, if any, others in the squad that can offer the blistering pace and amazing skill that he can, even if, like I say, he is totally unpredictable…

As for Niko Kranjcar, we will need him on song, we will need him to pull the strings as he is the man that Hart is clearly looking to build a team around – if he can do this for us, which he showed more than a few glimpses of last night, then it will help big time.

Hart on Finnan

Steve’s nicked his hamstring so we’ll have to see what happens with that. We’re not sure yet how bad it is yet.’

Incredible – and this will have some almost ‘gloating’ at the fact that Steve Finnan, someone they ‘knew would break down’ did break down after only 25 minutes. Did he not warm up enough at half time, or is he just as injury prone as suspected? Either way I guess it is not worth pointing any fingers of blame as it is not going to make it better…

Finnan seemed devastated by this, and to be fair he looked ok before this setback, but you have to seriously worry that this is a sign of things to come – we cannot, without any shadow of a doubt allow any of the right back cover to leave as it would seem far to risky, I think I would give Yassin Moutaouakil another run-out against Rangers next weekend as he looked ok again in the time he was given.

Hart on judging him when others arrive

‘It was always going to be a difficult tournament for us because we haven’t signed many players yet.

‘But we’ve got our targets and we’re trying to close them down.

‘We’ve got a lot of targets and we’re looking at a lot of players. We’re trying to whittle them down and get them in.

‘Hopefully we’ll have some updates when we get back from Portugal.’

First and foremost Hart needs some help, he needs a no.2 alongside him!

Ian Woan has helped him, but he lacks experience and for me is too similar to Hart in his approach – we desperately have to hope that Brian Kidd is well enough and able enough, to want to return? If it is not Kidd, then it must be someone with experience, and for me, also someone that does have something of an attacking string to their bow…

In all honesty I must admit that even I am starting to crack somewhat, things are not looking pretty – we are looking disjointed, dishevelled and without a doubt void of attacking ideas and we need some movement to happen through the Fratton gates and not out of them!

As we all know it is going to be a difficult season and Hart will find it hard going from the looks of things – but lets be fair his arms are totally tied, what can he do?

The most worrying thing is that there still – despite the obvious lack of the attacking intent in the squad to work with – very, very much a tendency to go for the defensive thoughts first, although to be fair I think we had to try and shut up shop big time last night as 4-0 could have easily become 8, 9 or 10-0 otherwise! That said despite a horrible looking deep almost 10 man back line it still could have been worse and we did start with a fairly negative outlook from the off… Like I say though, there is little offensively to work with, I just hope that we can add this attacking intent and use this.

All in all though, despite having reservations about Hart’s ability to play any other way, I think that it is only fair to wait until the season begins, and then see how the first handful of games go, and see what he can do with the team he has in place – which I would really, really hope includes at least 2 or 3 new players by the time we face Fulham.

What I do know is without our support and backing this season – as tough as it can be with an almost radio silence coming from the club when all we want is some answers – we will not have much of a hope so lets do this, so lets at least start on a positive note, if we go in defeatist then we are done for…


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