Date: 3rd September 2008 at 11:05am
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Pompey were ‘linked’ with a deadline day move for Joey Barton, something which just about every single one of us dreaded – but thankfully this did not come to fruition!

Harry Redknapp has moved to tell The News that he ‘never had any interest’ in ‘the animal’: ‘I do not know where it came from because it’s absolute rubbish.

‘I have not even thought about it. It’s just ridiculous, that’s all I can say. I hadn’t even seen the story on Sky.

‘I was at Fulham watching our reserves play. Then all of a sudden people kept asking about Barton. People were ringing me up going on about him, but it was complete news to me – and you’d think I would know.

‘It’s one of those you have no idea where it comes from and suddenly every-one latches on to it and wants to talk about it.

‘Sure I like him. Regardless of everything else he’s a good player, but I wasn’t looking to sign him. It hadn’t even crossed my mind to be perfectly honest.

‘What I do know is that there was no truth in it whatsoever. Something about a lot of nothing if you ask me.

‘Besides, I had no money to buy anyone else. I thought everyone knew that.’

I would never want that animal playing for Pompey, to be honest I do not think he belongs on a football pitch anymore as he has had enough ‘last chances’…

We all know that Redknapp can be ‘economical’ with the truth, so I would not be surprised if we had shown ‘some interest’ in ‘the animal’.

Thankfully this did not happen – which is the main thing…

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Our wing back play was something that guided us to the Division One title a few years back, and whilst Harry Redknapp has flirted with this since it has been something he had been unwilling – or maybe even ‘unable’ at the insistence of others – to try again… until recently!

Following the success of this, coupled with the injury to Niko Kranjcar this appears something that we are looking to pursue for the foreseeable future, which I am more than happy with. Even when the Croatian returns it is my thinking we could carry on with his and move him into a position that he would be ideally suited to – a central role…

The arrival of Nadir Belhadj on loan for the season on Monday, although not really a surprise – as we have been linked with him all summer – was maybe one we thought ‘do we really need?’

On reflection this also gives us strength in depth to use this system with the Algerian also able to cover a range of other positions as Redknapp explained to The News: ‘Belhadj is a left-sided player. He can be a left-back, he can be a left wing-back, and we need good players like that.

‘I know what he can offer us. I’ve seen him a few times and so has Tony Adams and our head of scouting Ian Broomfield. We’ve all liked what we have seen.

‘He’s the same type of player as Traore. He’s got pace, has good ability and is a very good player.

‘I see him giving us an alternative in that left wing-back role. Before there was no-one really at the club who could do it apart from Armand.

‘We’ve got a lot of games coming up, especially if we do well in Europe.

‘There’s a run where we play Saturday, midweek and then Saturday or Sunday – it’s pretty heavy stuff.

‘You are going to need a squad, especially with Traore. The lad’s only 18. He’s done terrific, but I don’t want to burn him out. He’s not used to it.

‘It’s a big ask for someone of his age to play three games every week. Now I have another good player who can go there and that’s important.’

The way we use our 3-5-2 formation, with the players that we have does give us the flexibility to revert to a 4-4-2 during games if needed be, although if Armand Traore is in this means Sylvain Distin plays out of place at left back, which is something that he can do but as he is our best defender you want him in the middle really.

Bringing in, and using Belhadj – as we will – ‘might’ allow us to revert to the 4-4-2 more seamlessly, although it ‘might’ mean Younes Kaboul pushing on into a midfield role, again not ideal but it is a flexible option – and this is what we did at Everton when needed, moved players around in a flexible fashion.

We need the sort of flexibility that people like Belhadj will bring to be able to revert from wing backs in a 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 if put under pressure.

However the arrival of not one, but two left backs this summer would appear to see Hermann Hreidarsson pushed well down the order but Redknapp insists he still has a part to play: ‘you want Hermann around. What a competitor and he never lets you down. He gives absolutely everything.

‘I don’t see him as a left wing-back, though. He’s more of a defender than both Traore and Belhadj.

‘What he can do is play left-back in a back four or be a left-sided centre half in a back three or back four. He gives us options.

‘He can still get games, for sure.’

Hreidarsson showed us last season what he can do, but in the early games this season for the first time in his Pompey career – the early games of last season aside – he looked all of his 34-years, something which he had rarely looked before.

But with us hopefully playing plenty of games this season we will need to change things around, so he and others ‘should’ still get games – we need to rotate things around, so hopefully Redknapp will do this as he says he will do.

Thoughts on all please guys…

PLAY UP POMPEY!

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