Date: 27th May 2008 at 10:58am
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We made a fair few signings throughout the summer of 2007 and then up to an including the end of August, and a few throughout January – so how did they rate?

Remember this is merely my opinion, they are listed merely in the order in which they signed. I have included the 13 that featured in the first team, people like Danijel Subotic were signed with the longer term in mind so I will not count people like him.

  • Sylvain Distin: When he arrived on a free from Citeh I thought ‘yep, that is a good signing. We have picked up a player that is proven in this league and a player that will offer us something’… little did I know quite how much he would offer us!

    I always knew he was good, but man I did not realise that he was this good. He has the lot, pace, power, leadership skills, a knack of being in the right place at the right time and his attitude is right, he wants to win all the time – he does not want to, nor will he accept being second best ever. His marauding runs from the back either down the left wing or straight through the middle were fantastic – if only they could have yielded a goal, had he finished his run in the cup final it would have been one of the greatest ever cup final goals.

    His teammates voted him the Player of the Year, so its clear how highly they rate him.

    Without a doubt our best signing this season and arguably the best free signing we have ever made? And we have had some fantastic free signing arrive over the years…

  • Hermann Hreidarsson: Not much was expected when the Icelandic defender arrived; again I thought he was an experienced defender who would add extra strength to our squad. His record with relegation was a worry though and we did not want this to rub off on us!

    He started the season in the side – and had a mare against Derby – and finished it in the side too picking up a cup winners medal, only injuries or suspensions keeping him out. He is not really a left back, but he has filled this role fantastically well and when asked to fill is as a central defender he has excelled.

    A no nonsense, tough tackling defender who again is in it to win it at all costs and has proved a very, very good signing overcoming his early troubles. Ok he might get drawn into the middle too much, but as said that is because he is not a natural left back.

    You would be a brave man to write him off, but I am not convinced that he will be the number one left back next season, but then again if he wants it enough again he could well be the man…

  • Sulley Muntari: He smashed our transfer record when he signed, as we finally ended a yearlong pursuit of the Ghanaian.

    He marked his home debut with a red card, but the early signs were very good and we liked what we saw. He has shown flashes of brilliance this season, scoring some wonderful goals but all too often he makes the easy look impossible and the hard things look simple. He makes the game look easy at times, but then again at others this casual approach does cost him and us.

    He has undoubted ability and potential, but he needs to find a consistency level before he can start thinking about playing for ‘the giants’ of the English game – I think that the talk of a move to Liverpool went to his head and it took him sometime to shake these thoughts.

    With such a price paid big things were expected, and although he did offer some fantastic things, for me he still has a lot to prove to be honest, but I fully believe that he will do this next season.

  • Martin Cranie: When you move along the coast from the team down the road you are always in for a difficult time before you even kick a ball, with you on a hiding to nothing from some people, but as far as I am concerned so long as you give 100% I could not care less who you used to play for or who you signed from.

    He looked decent in pre season and personally I thought he was doing ok against Manyoo when he made his league debut in the second game of the season. Tactics saw him taken off at half time in that game though and he only managed one more sub appearance after that I think?

    With his chances likely to be limited he had to go out on loan and was excelling with QPR, who had moved him into a central defensive position. He was impressing enough for them to want him permanently, with them willing to pay a reported £2.5m plus! Sadly he broke his leg and had to return early from this loan.

    He captains the reserves and I feel he will make inroads into the first team next season, becoming the eventual successor to Sol Campbell and a possible future Pompey captain and full England international…

  • Arnold Mvuemba: He made his loan from last season a permanent move last summer for a bargain, less than £1m! I was looking forward to seeing more of him as I had liked what I saw of him during that loan spell, sadly he did not really get much of a chance.

    I was surprised that we saw so little of the Frenchman really, but when he did come in he offered us something and I feel that he has a very bright future in the game so I hope that we are able to keep him – but like anyone if he does not play he might not want to stay.

    Another that I feel will be used much more next season, we must utilise the squad to its fullest or it is not worth having a squad is it…

  • Dave Nugent: Very much hit and miss, arrived as an England international with big things expected. At least 10-15 goals this season were the expectations? we got, what 5 in total, and even 1 of these was in the reserves.

    Rumours were flying about that he was a troublemaker off the pitch and was more interested in going out on the lash than anything else, whereas others said that he just desperately wanted to play but was being frozen out.

    In all fairness when he did play he hardly set the world alight, but he was not really getting many chance, much time on the pitch or having much luck. He underwent a hernia operation in January, something, which he claimed had been troubling him all season and when he returned after that he did seem a much, much better player but still his chances were limited – but when he did come in he did well.

    His future is still up in the air but I still believe that he will become a very good footballer so I hope that this will be with us. If we keep him and give him more chance next season I think we will see the real Dave Nugent – how anyone could be so quick to write him off is beyond me, do we have short memories? We never did this to Benjani and he came good! People argue that he always put in the graft, but can you honestly tell me that Nugent does not also do this…

  • John Utaka: Overall very disappointing for me to be honest, you would hope for a lot more from a player that has become your club record signing, which he did when signing.

    He came in all guns blazing and you thought ‘bloody hell we have got some player here’… Sadly this did not last and he spent month after month in the side despite offering little or nothing, and this is not an exaggeration! Between what October and February, early March time he offered little, apart from another fantastic goal against Newcastle. Leading up to the African nations many could not wait for him to go, shortly after his return some wished he had not come back.

    In all fairness he did up his game in the latter stages of the season and made a key contribution to our winning goal in the cup final but he has a hell of a lot to do next season to convince me of his desire to succeed. Of course I will not give up the hope, and do hope that much as he says himself we will see the best of him next season.

    The ability that he has is frightening, his quality undoubted but his commitment and effort are sorely lacking – if he can up this then we have a superstar on his hands, if he cannot be bothered to work on this he will not have a Pompey future and the fans will turn on him big time. As I say though I am keeping my fingers crossed that he will come good…

  • Glen Johnson: To say that the majority were ‘not amused’ when he returned could be an understatement. He started his loan spell brilliantly but then for the second half of that season he could not be bothered, it was as if he knew he would play regardless he was going back to Chelski so why bother…

    He started the season in the Chelski side, but this did not last and Harry Redknapp picked him up for around £4m on deadline day in January. As I say not many were that pleased, but we soon decided to give him a clean slate with it being my thinking that ‘he was now a Pompey player so he had to impress the boss and us regularly or he would not be forgiven,’ and man how he had repaid the faith put in him.

    His defending has improved immensely, his attacking play – which has always been the main strength of his game – is getting even better all the time and he is now back in the England set-up. Any doubters are no longer doubters and I feel he can only get better and better. Some feel he could move into a more attacking position but I feel that he might end up as a central defender, a position that he does often drift into during a game if you watch him.

  • Papa Bouba Diop: I think there was an even bigger groan when the Senegalese man mountain arrived, but maybe this was more as many people saw him as ‘the replacement for Gary O’Neil‘ who made way for him to sign, but in all fairness he was not bought in to replace him as such was he.

    His early displays made people think ‘maybe I was wrong’ but as the season wore on he became one of those that stayed in regardless. In all fairness to him when he was constantly being played out wide right, which is not his position at all, this was not helping him and was making him look totally ineffective. His desperation to score grew and grew and the more he tried the worse it got.

    He offers a huge presence in midfield and does do a lot of good that does often go unseen but personally I do not think he does enough to warrant a regular place week in week out, the basics of the game are things that he can struggle with, often giving the ball away with woeful passing, but in fairness he will battle to win it back but the damage can be done.

    When he signed I told anyone that would listen that I saw him as a ‘short term solution’, whilst I have little or no doubt that he will still be here next season I do not think that he will be one of the first names on the team sheet as he often was…

  • Lassana Diarra: Absolutely fantastic footballer, what else can you say!

    When he rolled into town in the January transfer market I was over the moon as I knew what a talent he was – anyone in any doubt soon knew this too as he was phenomenal in his opening performances, picking up the man of the match award in each.

    He suffered a bit when he was tired in the right sided position and at times the people he was playing with in the midfield were not really doing him or the team justice but his quality was still shining through. I maintain that he, and we, look at our best when he has Pedro Mendes alongside him in the midfield and this showed as Diarra was a different class in the cup final, coincidence that the Portuguese master was alongside him…

    For his own benefit as well as ours I really feel that he has to stay at Fratton next season, and if he is a man of his word he will as he has said he will be staying. If he does stay he has the potential to go down as one of our greatest ever footballers, maybe even the greatest?

  • Lucien Aubey: When he arrived on loan in January I expected him to make the left back spot his own, but he hardly got a sniff!

    It is hard to judge him as he did not really play much, but from what I did see of him he looked a decent footballer and would be a fine addition to the squad. As I say I expected him to make the left back spot his own but with the form Hreidarsson showed it was difficult to leave him out, but even when he was out strangely Lauren was often preferred at left back…

    Quite what the future holds for him I am not sure, from the little I saw I think he would make a very good signing if the price is right – but I am not convinced that he will stay, and as much as we do need a bigger squad next season we should not forget that we do have Cranie who could be used as a left back and of course Noe Pamarot – both players I fully expect to stay.

  • Milan Baros: I made no secret at my delight of his signing when he arrived on loan from Lyon – finally we had someone to fill the vacant no.9 shirt!

    He looked well off the pace against Manyoo on his debut but against Chelski he looked very good. The next few games that followed he improved yet further and you thought ‘we have picked up a good one here’… then it all seemed to go wrong, the more he tried to score the less likely he seemed as though he would and the more this caused his confidence to drain away and by the end of the season few believed that his loan would become permanent let alone want it.

    His effort and commitment cannot be doubted or questioned, his movement and ability to create space and time for others is second to none and offers us so much on that front but he looks as though he could play for the next year and not score.

    It is a tough call to make, as with Nugent and my thoughts that we cannot write him off, we cannot do so with Baros – the difference is he is ‘only’ on loan so this can be changed before a fee is paid, but with a fee of £6m likely at this point in time I would be surprised if we saw him next season.

    His European experience and pedigree could prove priceless but we need a return on our investment so unless the price is right I do not think we will see him again…

  • Jermain Defoe: Finally my faith that he would ‘one day sign for Pompey’ was repaid when he arrived at the death on deadline day in January… well on loan anyway, before making the permanent switch a week or so later.

    My admiration for the fella has never been hidden and he soon started repaying the faith with goals, setting a new club record for the run of successive home league games scoring from debut.

    He went off the boil towards the end of the season, but in fairness who did not and with the fact that he would not be playing in the FA cup final weighing on his mind this probably did not help as the frustration probably grew.

    His signing meant that we had to change our formation to ‘accommodate’ him, and this did unbalance our side at times but we now have a 20 goal a season man bare minimum and with some summer arrivals – I am still convinced that Peter Crouch will return to partner him, and what a partnership that will be – and the side being slightly altered we will see the very best of him next season, the more he scores them more we will win. Do not write off Nugent either as I feel he could form a formidable partnership with Defoe.

    The major regret with Defoe signing was the fact that Benjani had to leave, these together would have been dynamite – but the benefits of this sacrifice will be seen fully next season.

    Remember this is merely my opinion, you might or might not agree. I am not saying this is the way it is, or should be I am simply putting forward my own thoughts…

    What are your thoughts on the players that arrived last season?

    PLAY UP POMPEY!

    Join the Vital Pompey Debate

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