Portsmouth - Utaka set for United recall?
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Utaka set for United recall?

Some changes are required for the United game, too many players have failed to perform for too long, so do need to be taken out but as mentioned by many wholesale changes is probably too risky against a team like United… at the same time barely minimal changes could prove just as much our undoing?

Harry Redknapp will be forced into at least one change from the defeat to Everton last weekend as Jermain Defoe is cup tied, and after his words in defence of John Utaka to The News it looks as though he might get the nod: 'there's every chance for John to come back in and be involved at Manchester United.

'We are going to need some performances from him between now and the end of the season.

'He has all the ability in the world and can be what he wants to be.

'He can finish terrifically. You'd take John to score when he goes through.

'He has done that on a couple of occasions for us this season.

'John has fantastic ability so it's up to him to put it to use. He has to use it.'

Should he come back in it will be as part of the 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation used to such success earlier in the season. Should he play, and should we see the best of Utaka then he 'could' be the match winner - the problem is we have not seen the best of Utaka for several months…

Kanu looks likely to lead the line, so Utaka could take a place on the right, but his defensive frailties are a concern though, so Lauren could be an option, the problem is he offers little or nothing going forward and this has not worked so far for me, so if used Glen Johnson in front of him would have to be the way to go surely?

Just a thought, and although probably not too likely, what about Utaka playing the lone role with Lauren and Johnson occupying the right - ideally with Johnson pushed further forward?

I am not overlooking Milan Baros, but it is unlikely that both he and Utaka will return in the same game. Clearly Utaka does not have the hold up play that Kanu does but at least he has the mobility and pace that could trouble United - which could prove more of a threat? By not using him on the right we would not be exposing this weakness either…

Whatever happens if we go to Old Trafford looking to just get a draw we will lose, if we go to Old Trafford looking to go all out to win, again we will lose. Patience is the key, as is not showing them too much respect. Chances will be few and far between but we have to ask questions, for me if we are to do that we need some mobility and pace up front.


Join the Vital Pompey Debate

The Journalist

Writer: pompeyrug Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday March 6 2008

Time: 11:43AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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i remember at the start of the season everyone was thinking utaka was great, there were massive articles in the papers about stuff like how his name meant ' i am faster than the arrow and mightier than the spear' in nigerian, but he needs to prove himself quickly the way harry was talking it sounded as though he could be sold if he doesnt improve. He is very quick though.
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06/03/2008 13:28:00

Perhaps he could prove that playing as a lone striker. He definitely prefers to play up front which is why he sulks on the wing.
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06/03/2008 13:35:00

and N09 he is quick if he can be bothered - stories go that he only scored at Reading because HR told him to get movin'.
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06/03/2008 13:39:00

Pompeys so called stars can "Showboat" their skills on the worlds stage this saturday. We are told that some of them hope to move to bigger clubs this summer. So perhaps, just perhaps, this motivation will make them give 100% to suit the occasion and we could get a positive result.
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06/03/2008 14:37:00

Time after time everyone mentions how we should play Lauren at right back and Johnson infron of him, as he has proved this season that he is excellent at getting forward, he can beat players, and can put half decent balls into the box. Surely Harry must have thought of this by now?

If not perhaps I could suggest that we all take the time to write him a letter, he may have his reasons but at the moment it doesn't look like anyone else knows why.
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06/03/2008 14:40:00

maybe the unexpected is the way to beat united, playing lauren at right back, johnson in right midfield and utaka as a line striker would be 'unexpected wouldnt it... it probably wont happen, but you never know...
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06/03/2008 14:59:00

lone, not line striker...
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06/03/2008 15:00:00

The players need to adapt to system very quickly. All clubs shuffle their pack & style. If they can't adapt they go. Expect a very busy ins/outs this summer.
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06/03/2008 15:33:00

stfc ballboy
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06/03/2008 16:29:00

Storagematt, some weeks ago I said there would be a mass exodus of at least 6 squad players. I still stick by that. Matt Taylor was one of the 6 and he went earlier than I expected. My reason for the exodus is probably different to what most would give but the poor form will certainly be a factor from the clubs perspective. I would like to see Utaka in a central role but I can see him doing it on his own. He tends to drop back and then run with or onto the ball. It is not impossible to do this as a lone striker with his speed but it is very difficult if the defence is packed. He really needs someone to hold up the ball and feed it to him on the run. This may sound strange but I'd like to see him play alongside Kranjcar in the middle but I haven't worked out how we would get the width we lack if that happened.
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06/03/2008 23:21:00

I quite like Utaka - think he's got decent enough skills and he's very very quick. If you're planning on playing deep, United's defence will probably be drawn out - you'll need pace to get behind them and score goals.
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07/03/2008 01:28:00

I hope they GJ up the field but would put Pamarot behind him rather than Lauren. And yep, we should definitely revert to the 4-5-1. If it ain't broke (which it wasn't) then don't fix it. It's going to be a little while (if at all at this late stage of the season) before we get proficient at using 2 up front. No sense trying to reinvent the wheel in the most important match of the year (other than the one we just lost that is). Who should the striker be ? I'd take Baros. Otherstarting midfielders would include Mendes, Diop, Diarra and of course Nico. Kanu, Nugent, Lauren and Davis off the bench.
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07/03/2008 03:12:00

would be nice timing for you guys but to have him back full fit is i think more important so wait
ozanne park rangers
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07/03/2008 05:57:00

who are we waiting on to be be fully fit ozanne park rangers? utaka? he's not unfit - just lazy :-)
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07/03/2008 08:57:00

A little snippit of information for you. Kanu was spotted filling his car up in an Eastleigh garage yesterday by a couple of fans. He insisted on giving an autograph even though no-one could find a pen that worked, this involved borrowing a pen from the cask desk and he made the time to spend and talk to the fans. The more worrying news is he was wearing flip flops and limping heavily. Eastneydave, Vitalsportnews, Eastleigh.
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07/03/2008 09:27:00

good reporting dave, that is a worry as if he isnt able to play any part that would be bad, but it would be even more worrying if he did start the game... it would seem to suggest he will be on the bench?
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07/03/2008 09:39:00

i saw king kanu as well, what a lovely man, easily the most skilful player we have ever had.
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07/03/2008 12:48:00

Just how he was described to me 'a lovely man'. Couldn't do enough for people just how all professional footballers should be.
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07/03/2008 13:20:00

I like hearing that top players are good to fans. I find it awful that some players have the attitude that they are too good to speak/smile/chat to fans. Fans put them where they are and they should be grateful because without fans, football clubs would be nothing.
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07/03/2008 16:35:00

I have been to Nigeria often especialy in the last few years, digging for records, anyway one of my best friends is living in Agengule one of the roughest areas in Lagos (okocha is from that place) and I often wonderd how could such a nice man live in such a place. So very often when I think of players like Kanu I can really imagine how it must have been for them to be able earn good money with what they love most, they must feel like on opium for years, so I am not surprise that he is that kind with his fans, he still remember how different it could be and the fans are the reason why he is on the field. I must add that Africa is kinda addictive in a way, you love it or you hate it, I love it and most of the African footballers do return home to combine two important things, money and motherland
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07/03/2008 22:58:00

True both Benjani and Lua Lua have given back a great deal to their homelands over the years which is tremendous.
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08/03/2008 00:05:00

I also remember reading that the Reading player Ulises de la Cruz donates a good percentage of his wage to help build up his region in Ecuador. I always remembered that.
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08/03/2008 10:38:00


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