Date: 10th April 2008 at 11:17am
Written by:

See what I did there – genius… ok maybe not! The right side of midfield has been a real problem area for us this season, and in truth in seasons gone by and we are still looking for the answer.

This season we have tried:

  • Niko Kranjcar – albeit very briefly, but Harry Redknapp prefers him on the left.

  • John Utaka – he has been used mostly but his lack of effort and apparent unwillingness to track back often leaves the defence exposed.

  • Lauren – defensively he leaves us sound but his inability to get forward hurts us.

  • Sean Davis – that just is not his position and it shows.

  • Richard Hughes – again this not his role but if you ask him to do a job anywhere on the park he will do it, and he has but not to the degree we need in this area.

  • Lassana Diarra – he had played as a right back for Chelsea, maybe even on the right of midfield? He was totally wasted when he was used on the right against Birmingham. It seemed to have a negative impact on his game and he gave the ball away more in his substitute appearance that night than he probably has during the rest of his Pompey career I would say.

  • Papa Bouba Diop – the big man cannot do this role at all; he looks awkward and very uncomfortable. The lack of width that we have is even more apparent with him on the right. You talk about square pegs in round holes – this is an understatement when using him out on the right.

  • Arnold Mvuemba – he was used most recently against West Ham during the week, and he did an ok job.

    Utaka is the man that Redknapp wants to use here but his laid back style has often seen us almost play with 10 men. Sorry to be harsh on the fella but his lack of effort and interest sometimes horrifies me. He has the talent and the ability, he just needs the application – hopefully next season we will see the best of him? With Utaka out injured at the moment anyway we need to fill this void.

    To be honest I would like to see Glen Johnson given a go and put Lauren at right back behind him. Another possibility, although not ideal, even more so as he has been out injured for so long would be to play Martin Cranie ahead of Johnson? He has the energy to get up and down and can play that role. As I often say ultimately I see Cranie as a central defender but he can play on either flank as a full back or a midfielder.

    Lets fact it though none of the above are going to happen, it will most likely be Bouba Diop that keeps his place on the right at the weekend but I can see no harm in keeping Mvuemba in the side. He did a job against West Ham and for me in terms of options that will seriously be looked at he is the most natural option to play out on the right. He did this to some success last season when asked, I recall his goal at Watford when he scored after a minute or so of coming on, and I believe he was playing on the right side of midfield that afternoon?

    I think we clearly need to look at this area in the summer, but for now we have to make do with what we have.

    People might not agree but I really do think that we have missed Gary O’Neil more than any other player sold. He might not have been ideally suited to the role on the right but he got up and down the pitch all day long and his delivery is fantastic. His major failing was his inability to score enough goals, this always stopped him from stepping up to the next level for me.

    But we cannot change what has been so we can only use what we have. As said I would like to see Johnson pushed further forward, failing that maybe if fit enough Cranie tried but neither of these options seem that likely to be used so I would stick with Mvuemba against the barcodes this weekend to be honest.

    What do you reckon guys?


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