Much has been said about how, at our last meeting, Pompey had more of Arsenal’s “invincibles” in their first team than Arsenal did.
Last season, the average age of our team was very high, we had a great number of players that were “past it” (Andy Cole) or looked like they would be “past it” (David James). In fact, looking at Portsmouth from a neutrals point of view, there hopes for the future seemed very bleak, with seemingly no one under the age of 25. (Well almost). Of course, much has changed since then, we have brought in new, young, players, but how long will we keep the likes of Diarra for? And we still have an ageing captain in Sol Campbell.
The new generation – spearheaded by Sulley Muntari and Lassana Diarra are coming into our team, and right now, our squad looks much younger. However, we still don’t have anyone in an u21 team playing regularly, and whilst the academy is making impressive strides towards bringing in players, I would be surprised if saw any youngsters break in for the next few years.
Frank Songo’o looked likely for a while, until a poor spell at Crystal palace saw him drop slightly out of favour. Paris Cowen-Hall has seemingly been in impressive form for the academy side, or at least, his name keeps popping up in the reviews – and Martin Cranie looked very impressive before he broke his leg (or someone broke it for him…I cant remember) – however none of these are really OUR players. Born and bred Pompey. Cowen-Hall joined from Dagenham and Redbridge (I think), Cranie joined from scum (but has been forgiven?by me anyway) and Songo’o came from Barcelona. Our only player to come through our academy, we sold, so it hardly looks like something we can rely on for the future, even with Paul Hart in charge.
The club is making steps towards youth, as we have seen over the last year. Saying (a very sad) goodbye to 29 year old Benjani “the legend” Mwaruwari, in the face of 25 year old Jermain “cup tied” Defoe (yes, I am still bitter). The arrivals of two new youth strikers, and a highly sort after youth goalkeeper were added to our collection of youthful players in January, and Lassana Diarra came in to our now relatively young midfield, to accompany Muntari, who is also 22(ish). Our defence is also getting younger, with Aubey coming in, to add to Glen Johnson – although our aging centre back pairing may need a little improvement.
So despite having the tag “Arsenal’s retirement village” – it looks like we are taking steps in all areas of the pitch to build a team of our own, taking a few risks on players who may, or may not succeed, so despite what initially looked a year and a half ago to be an ageing squad, we are beginning to look a much more athletic side, with players wishing to prove themselves, rather than sit back, having already made there point. It looks like there are good times ahead for us…but then; we already knew that didn’t we?
To be continued…
Written by pompeycarpet.
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