Date: 9th January 2008 at 8:52am
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Unfortunately, the biannual trip of half of our squad to Africa is taking place over the next month.

Amid repeated claims by Harry Redknapp that we don’t have much of a squad left – 14 players to be precise – I decided to look at what we actually do have, and how we will manage with only having three subs.

The obvious place to start, is who’s leaving?

Well, of the Africans in our squad, only Muntari, Kanu, Utaka and Diop are leaving (I am unaware of Laurens current international state – but I cant be sure that he is leaving). Traore looked like he might go, but he isn’t, although many people can argue that Traore leaving would not be a major loss, as I cant remember him featuring this season – and he probably wont even though he isn’t leaving, so there is no major loss there. This still leaves us with 4 first team players going on holiday – but this figure can then be reduced by the (possibly controversial) idea that we would rather see Nugent playing over this period than Kanu. So no loss there?

Diop is harder to replace. His tackling in the midfield, his tireless efforts to win every ball, and even his outrageously bad shooting will be missed, but no matter – as we have another tireless performer sitting in the wings to take his place. Richard Hughes can run round the pitch, win balls, tackle hard, and even has quite a nice shot too him, as Fulham nearly discovered last year – so all is not lost!

Still, Utaka is off – but this could do him some good, as his form has been poor recently, and he seemingly needs to learn to run again, maybe an African holiday will do him some good? In terms of replacing him though, it is a more difficult matter. Kranjcar could move across to his more natural right hand side, allowing Taylor to fill in on the left – a move that would be popular with most fans at least!

Still, What about Muntari? How can we replace the performer that we chased for a year, can control a game, score fantastic goals, and tackle hard? Well, we can’t – but with the return of fitness for Sean Davis, and Mvuemba and Mendes waiting in the wings to take his place, I think the transition will go un-noticed!

I would be lying to suggest that these replacements are as good as the first team – they aren’t – but I have every confidence that they can come in and do the job. What is more worrying is the subs bench. Against Ipswich, only Nugent could come on and make a difference to the game for us – which he did extremely well – but Lauren, Traore and Pamarot hardly pose a major attacking threat.

Unfortunately, this is where the problems kick in. Of the 24-man squad we have, there are 3 goalkeepers – meaning we only have 21 outfield players. 4 of them are leaving, leaving just 17, and with Cranie and Primus out with long term injuries, Harry is almost right, but we do have 15 outfield players left! Although this figure does not include Richard Duffy and Franck Songo’o. (Duffy is still listed in the squad – but is surely lacking the experience needed to just “step in” whilst Songo’o is not).

So, how will we line up without our African friends? Well, this is pure guesswork – but there cannot be too many variants on it:

David James
Sol Campbell
Duffy (?)

This does not leave too much room to manoeuvre, but the option of 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 is still open.

The back 4 will doubtless remain unchanged, but do we start Lauren in right midfield (or even Johnson?), or move Kranjcar across? Do we play with a 5 man midfield – leaving us with just 1 man available to come on (counting Lauren as the defender he is), with one upfront (Benjani or Nugent?) or do we play 2 upfront, wit just a 4 man midfield, leaving us room to build up at the back, but little extra power up front. Or, do we move Kranjcar into the position behind the striker, where he played for some of last season, with Taylor and Lauren on the wings?

I feel the most likely is 4-4-2, with Kranjcar and Taylor on the wings – although this leaves us with very little to change if we go a goal behind…

The problem for now is not what team we send out to start with, it’s what we do AFTER that that is difficult (until reinforcements arrive)

Written by pompeycarpet.

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8 Replies to “What Now for Tiny Pompey?”

  • Good summary, PC, and the detail shows that we can put a team out that is almost as good as the one we currently charge with gaining 3 points. The problems do materialise with the depth of the remaining players. Some of the fringe players are fine and I have no qualms with them playing but one or two injuries and we are in trouble. As painful as this at first appears, isn’t this what we are in football for? The backs to the wall scenario. Players suddenly called upon to bolster the cause, young players suddenly given their chance to impress, squad players with a point to prove, new systems and tactics tried . . . . . Am I the only one who finds this exciting? We may end up with less points than we may have got, we may slip a little in the table but we may find a new star, a new prospect, a rejuvenated fringe player. And of course, if the departing players are as good as they and Hal would like us to believe, then surely they will redress the situation upon their return? Exciting times. Less exciting is the news that HR is looking at a loan of Boeateng from the awful Middlesboro. A bunch of these losers infecting the club and my scenario suddenly looks quite good, I think!

  • Super article Carpet, it explains everthing. Perhaps you could send a copy to HR as his announcments totally confuse me. Rug often talks of players who are in with HR or not. Perhaps HR does not include the latter!!

  • i love ‘arry, think he has – and will continue to be fantastic for this club – but he does have his favourites, and if you arent one of these it is very, very hard to become one… im with you Et_tu_Pompeii, whilst i would have rather kept the players around that have gone off to african – maybe utaka and kanu aside who have done little for several months yet still play week in week out – the propsect of a ‘forgotten man’ becoming reborn, a youngster being thrust into action and shinning, one of these trialist signing and doing the business does excite me – but as you also said, and as i have pointed out in an article i wrote the thought of boateng signing does not…

  • yetp great article carpet – ive written an article on the signing of adda djeziri and also the trial of cho jae-jin, as well as the comments from danijel subotik but it isnt scheduled to publish itself until 1pm – but these fellas could be the surprises we are looking for?

  • could be – but cho jae-jin is aprantly njot upo too much, and the other is still young. that said, young centre forwards normally do better than older ones – or atleast make a bigger impact!

  • A good article Carpet and most of your comments I agree with – Life during the ACN is not gonna be the same as it was before they went and I doubt if it will be the same once they return.. I just hope the players who desrve a place get it and most importantly take it

  • HR loves the 451, it’s whos is fit for midfield warfare when the likes of Sunderland, Derby & Bolton come scapping.

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