Date: 4th November 2008 at 8:43pm
Written by:

Each week, our resident school teacher PFCGino examines some former students of Portsmouth FC. In this weeks article Gino looks back at the past week and offers his grade on the recent performances of those ex-pupils who are still plying their trade in the Premiership.

Matthew Taylor & Andrew O’Brien – Bolton
Following a 2-0 defeat away to Spurs, Bolton find themselves in an early relegation struggle as they hosted Everton in midweek. Taylor and O’Brien both started this game, which culminated in a 1-0 win for the Toffees. Taylor had a frustrating game – most of his shots and crosses, which are normally spot-on, were either wide or awry. After 40 minutes, Taylor had a golden opportunity to put the Trotters one nil up, however his header skimmed the post as Howard slipped when coming to the ball. Taylor however was nowhere near his best, and looked half the player he was in a Pompey shirt. Andrew O’Brien was out of the game – he was poor all over the pitch and was hardly noticeable in the Bolton defence. Both players were poor, but Taylor deserves a C for effort and O’Brien gets a D.

The weekend’s game saw them at home to Manchester City, where they claimed a deserved 2-0 victory. Taylor’s opening pass went awry, as he seemingly passed to nobody. He soon got over that though, whipping balls into the box at every opportunity. Further, he was brought down by a clumsy tackle from David Dunne, and should have had a penalty, but what a surprise the ref Mike Riley got it wrong! A good all round performance, so deserves a B. O’Brien had a relatively quiet game, and was rarely tested. That said, what he did do, he did with confidence and was solid at the back. A B for him, too.

Ricardo Fuller, Andy Griffin, Vincent Pericard, Amdy Faye & Salif Diao – Stoke:
Stoke’s midweek game saw them take on Sunderland at the Britannia Stadium, and they came away with a deserved 1-0 win. Amdy Faye and Vincent Pericard started this game on the bench, with only Faye coming on with 3 minutes to go. Griffin produced a solid display at the back, and Diao had a good game in midfield, albeit getting booked. They both get B’s, whereas Fuller was dangerous all game, and got on the scoresheet with a fantastic close-range header. He deserves an A Grade.

This was followed up at the weekend with a tough test against Arsenal in Stoke, however Stoke came away with an unlikely 2-1 victory to dent Arsenal’s title challenge. Arsenal were all over Stoke as expected, but it was Fuller’s clinical finishing that inspired Stoke to hold their mettle against them. It was a busy afternoon for the Stoke defence, and Andy Griffin dealt with everything that was thrown at him confidently. Faye and Diao were great in midfield as they got the ball to the strikers with relative ease. Fuller was the hero for taking his first goal well, and helping out in defence when called upon to do so. B’s all around save for Fuller, who gets full marks. I wonder why he didn’t play this well with us?!

Gary O’Neil – Middlesbrough:
The midweek Premiership game saw Middlesbrough snatch an unlikely victory against Manchester City. The 2-0 scoreline was justified in Boro’s style of play, with Gary O’Neil getting on the scoresheet. The home side didn’t really get going until the 50 minute mark, when a penalty fired them ahead. O’Neil had been quiet up until this point, however he bossed the midfield after this. In injury time, the ball was played by Gary O’Neil into the box for Tuncay, whose effort was deflected by both Hart and Onuoha. The ball fell for O’Neil, whose shot went high into the net. A great all round performance, so an A grade for this game.

Saturday’s game saw them draw 1-1 at home with West Ham. O’Neil was very quiet in this game, and in the 38th minute was limping slightly and looked to have taken a bit of a knock. He carried on however, and as the game picked up pace in the second half he saw a great effort blocked, and also an edge of the area stinging shot was well saved by Robert Green. Another good performance – O’Neil has definitely established himself in the Premiership – a B for him here.

Yakubu – Everton:
Everton’s midweek game saw them win 1-0 away to Bolton, with Yakubu once again not on the scoresheet. He must be feeling frustrated, particular as he was substituted after 64 minutes. Yakubu’s game started brightly with great linking play with Louis Saha, in particular a neat backheel found the Frenchman. Saying that, his efforts on goal were poor, and every shot seemed to be directed straight at Jaskelaainen. Yakubu gets a C- for this game.

At the weekend, Everton were at home to Fulham where another late goal saw them win 1-0. Yakubu was again not on the scoresheet, and was substituted 5 minutes from time. Yakubu was far from his former Pompey self, as his first real ‘chance’ came in the 64th minute. The ball found itself in the back of the net, but his foul on Schwarzer meant the goal was disallowed. Yakubu was left frustrated after every ball went over his head, was too long for him or he was overcrowded in the box. An average C for Yakubu, as despite not really being in the game, he did make an effort.

That’s it for the Premiership, PFCGino’s view of ex-Pompey players in the lower divisions, playing abroad and currently out on loan will follow in later articles.

What are your thoughts on the players featured?

Were you glad to see them go?

Could we do with them now ?

Do you agree with PFCGino’s ratings?

Or perhaps there’s a particular player PFCGino hasn’t mentioned or you’d like featured in more detail.

Please share your thoughts by posting a comment below.

Join the Vital Pompey Debate