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Players that joined Pompey - the verdict!

We made a fair few signings throughout the summer of 2007 and then up to an including the end of August, and a few throughout January - so how did they rate?

Remember this is merely my opinion, they are listed merely in the order in which they signed. I have included the 13 that featured in the first team, people like Danijel Subotic were signed with the longer term in mind so I will not count people like him.

  • Sylvain Distin: When he arrived on a free from Citeh I thought 'yep, that is a good signing. We have picked up a player that is proven in this league and a player that will offer us something'... little did I know quite how much he would offer us!

    I always knew he was good, but man I did not realise that he was this good. He has the lot, pace, power, leadership skills, a knack of being in the right place at the right time and his attitude is right, he wants to win all the time - he does not want to, nor will he accept being second best ever. His marauding runs from the back either down the left wing or straight through the middle were fantastic - if only they could have yielded a goal, had he finished his run in the cup final it would have been one of the greatest ever cup final goals.

    His teammates voted him the Player of the Year, so its clear how highly they rate him.

    Without a doubt our best signing this season and arguably the best free signing we have ever made? And we have had some fantastic free signing arrive over the years...

  • Hermann Hreidarsson: Not much was expected when the Icelandic defender arrived; again I thought he was an experienced defender who would add extra strength to our squad. His record with relegation was a worry though and we did not want this to rub off on us!

    He started the season in the side - and had a mare against Derby - and finished it in the side too picking up a cup winners medal, only injuries or suspensions keeping him out. He is not really a left back, but he has filled this role fantastically well and when asked to fill is as a central defender he has excelled.

    A no nonsense, tough tackling defender who again is in it to win it at all costs and has proved a very, very good signing overcoming his early troubles. Ok he might get drawn into the middle too much, but as said that is because he is not a natural left back.

    You would be a brave man to write him off, but I am not convinced that he will be the number one left back next season, but then again if he wants it enough again he could well be the man...

  • Sulley Muntari: He smashed our transfer record when he signed, as we finally ended a yearlong pursuit of the Ghanaian.

    He marked his home debut with a red card, but the early signs were very good and we liked what we saw. He has shown flashes of brilliance this season, scoring some wonderful goals but all too often he makes the easy look impossible and the hard things look simple. He makes the game look easy at times, but then again at others this casual approach does cost him and us.

    He has undoubted ability and potential, but he needs to find a consistency level before he can start thinking about playing for 'the giants' of the English game - I think that the talk of a move to Liverpool went to his head and it took him sometime to shake these thoughts.

    With such a price paid big things were expected, and although he did offer some fantastic things, for me he still has a lot to prove to be honest, but I fully believe that he will do this next season.

  • Martin Cranie: When you move along the coast from the team down the road you are always in for a difficult time before you even kick a ball, with you on a hiding to nothing from some people, but as far as I am concerned so long as you give 100% I could not care less who you used to play for or who you signed from.

    He looked decent in pre season and personally I thought he was doing ok against Manyoo when he made his league debut in the second game of the season. Tactics saw him taken off at half time in that game though and he only managed one more sub appearance after that I think?

    With his chances likely to be limited he had to go out on loan and was excelling with QPR, who had moved him into a central defensive position. He was impressing enough for them to want him permanently, with them willing to pay a reported £2.5m plus! Sadly he broke his leg and had to return early from this loan.

    He captains the reserves and I feel he will make inroads into the first team next season, becoming the eventual successor to Sol Campbell and a possible future Pompey captain and full England international...

  • Arnold Mvuemba: He made his loan from last season a permanent move last summer for a bargain, less than £1m! I was looking forward to seeing more of him as I had liked what I saw of him during that loan spell, sadly he did not really get much of a chance.

    I was surprised that we saw so little of the Frenchman really, but when he did come in he offered us something and I feel that he has a very bright future in the game so I hope that we are able to keep him - but like anyone if he does not play he might not want to stay.

    Another that I feel will be used much more next season, we must utilise the squad to its fullest or it is not worth having a squad is it...

  • Dave Nugent: Very much hit and miss, arrived as an England international with big things expected. At least 10-15 goals this season were the expectations… we got, what 5 in total, and even 1 of these was in the reserves.

    Rumours were flying about that he was a troublemaker off the pitch and was more interested in going out on the lash than anything else, whereas others said that he just desperately wanted to play but was being frozen out.

    In all fairness when he did play he hardly set the world alight, but he was not really getting many chance, much time on the pitch or having much luck. He underwent a hernia operation in January, something, which he claimed had been troubling him all season and when he returned after that he did seem a much, much better player but still his chances were limited - but when he did come in he did well.

    His future is still up in the air but I still believe that he will become a very good footballer so I hope that this will be with us. If we keep him and give him more chance next season I think we will see the real Dave Nugent - how anyone could be so quick to write him off is beyond me, do we have short memories? We never did this to Benjani and he came good! People argue that he always put in the graft, but can you honestly tell me that Nugent does not also do this...

  • John Utaka: Overall very disappointing for me to be honest, you would hope for a lot more from a player that has become your club record signing, which he did when signing.

    He came in all guns blazing and you thought 'bloody hell we have got some player here'... Sadly this did not last and he spent month after month in the side despite offering little or nothing, and this is not an exaggeration! Between what October and February, early March time he offered little, apart from another fantastic goal against Newcastle. Leading up to the African nations many could not wait for him to go, shortly after his return some wished he had not come back.

    In all fairness he did up his game in the latter stages of the season and made a key contribution to our winning goal in the cup final but he has a hell of a lot to do next season to convince me of his desire to succeed. Of course I will not give up the hope, and do hope that much as he says himself we will see the best of him next season.

    The ability that he has is frightening, his quality undoubted but his commitment and effort are sorely lacking - if he can up this then we have a superstar on his hands, if he cannot be bothered to work on this he will not have a Pompey future and the fans will turn on him big time. As I say though I am keeping my fingers crossed that he will come good...

  • Glen Johnson: To say that the majority were 'not amused' when he returned could be an understatement. He started his loan spell brilliantly but then for the second half of that season he could not be bothered, it was as if he knew he would play regardless he was going back to Chelski so why bother...

    He started the season in the Chelski side, but this did not last and Harry Redknapp picked him up for around £4m on deadline day in January. As I say not many were that pleased, but we soon decided to give him a clean slate with it being my thinking that 'he was now a Pompey player so he had to impress the boss and us regularly or he would not be forgiven,' and man how he had repaid the faith put in him.

    His defending has improved immensely, his attacking play - which has always been the main strength of his game - is getting even better all the time and he is now back in the England set-up. Any doubters are no longer doubters and I feel he can only get better and better. Some feel he could move into a more attacking position but I feel that he might end up as a central defender, a position that he does often drift into during a game if you watch him.

  • Papa Bouba Diop: I think there was an even bigger groan when the Senegalese man mountain arrived, but maybe this was more as many people saw him as 'the replacement for Gary O'Neil' who made way for him to sign, but in all fairness he was not bought in to replace him as such was he.

    His early displays made people think 'maybe I was wrong' but as the season wore on he became one of those that stayed in regardless. In all fairness to him when he was constantly being played out wide right, which is not his position at all, this was not helping him and was making him look totally ineffective. His desperation to score grew and grew and the more he tried the worse it got.

    He offers a huge presence in midfield and does do a lot of good that does often go unseen but personally I do not think he does enough to warrant a regular place week in week out, the basics of the game are things that he can struggle with, often giving the ball away with woeful passing, but in fairness he will battle to win it back but the damage can be done.

    When he signed I told anyone that would listen that I saw him as a 'short term solution', whilst I have little or no doubt that he will still be here next season I do not think that he will be one of the first names on the team sheet as he often was...

  • Lassana Diarra: Absolutely fantastic footballer, what else can you say!

    When he rolled into town in the January transfer market I was over the moon as I knew what a talent he was - anyone in any doubt soon knew this too as he was phenomenal in his opening performances, picking up the man of the match award in each.

    He suffered a bit when he was tired in the right sided position and at times the people he was playing with in the midfield were not really doing him or the team justice but his quality was still shining through. I maintain that he, and we, look at our best when he has Pedro Mendes alongside him in the midfield and this showed as Diarra was a different class in the cup final, coincidence that the Portuguese master was alongside him...

    For his own benefit as well as ours I really feel that he has to stay at Fratton next season, and if he is a man of his word he will as he has said he will be staying. If he does stay he has the potential to go down as one of our greatest ever footballers, maybe even the greatest?

  • Lucien Aubey: When he arrived on loan in January I expected him to make the left back spot his own, but he hardly got a sniff!

    It is hard to judge him as he did not really play much, but from what I did see of him he looked a decent footballer and would be a fine addition to the squad. As I say I expected him to make the left back spot his own but with the form Hreidarsson showed it was difficult to leave him out, but even when he was out strangely Lauren was often preferred at left back...

    Quite what the future holds for him I am not sure, from the little I saw I think he would make a very good signing if the price is right - but I am not convinced that he will stay, and as much as we do need a bigger squad next season we should not forget that we do have Cranie who could be used as a left back and of course Noe Pamarot - both players I fully expect to stay.

  • Milan Baros: I made no secret at my delight of his signing when he arrived on loan from Lyon - finally we had someone to fill the vacant no.9 shirt!

    He looked well off the pace against Manyoo on his debut but against Chelski he looked very good. The next few games that followed he improved yet further and you thought 'we have picked up a good one here'... then it all seemed to go wrong, the more he tried to score the less likely he seemed as though he would and the more this caused his confidence to drain away and by the end of the season few believed that his loan would become permanent let alone want it.

    His effort and commitment cannot be doubted or questioned, his movement and ability to create space and time for others is second to none and offers us so much on that front but he looks as though he could play for the next year and not score.

    It is a tough call to make, as with Nugent and my thoughts that we cannot write him off, we cannot do so with Baros - the difference is he is 'only' on loan so this can be changed before a fee is paid, but with a fee of £6m likely at this point in time I would be surprised if we saw him next season.

    His European experience and pedigree could prove priceless but we need a return on our investment so unless the price is right I do not think we will see him again...

  • Jermain Defoe: Finally my faith that he would 'one day sign for Pompey' was repaid when he arrived at the death on deadline day in January... well on loan anyway, before making the permanent switch a week or so later.

    My admiration for the fella has never been hidden and he soon started repaying the faith with goals, setting a new club record for the run of successive home league games scoring from debut.

    He went off the boil towards the end of the season, but in fairness who did not and with the fact that he would not be playing in the FA cup final weighing on his mind this probably did not help as the frustration probably grew.

    His signing meant that we had to change our formation to 'accommodate' him, and this did unbalance our side at times but we now have a 20 goal a season man bare minimum and with some summer arrivals - I am still convinced that Peter Crouch will return to partner him, and what a partnership that will be - and the side being slightly altered we will see the very best of him next season, the more he scores them more we will win. Do not write off Nugent either as I feel he could form a formidable partnership with Defoe.

    The major regret with Defoe signing was the fact that Benjani had to leave, these together would have been dynamite - but the benefits of this sacrifice will be seen fully next season.

    Remember this is merely my opinion, you might or might not agree. I am not saying this is the way it is, or should be I am simply putting forward my own thoughts...

    What are your thoughts on the players that arrived last season?


    Join the Vital Pompey Debate

  • The Journalist

    Writer: pompeyrug Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

    Date:Tuesday May 27 2008

    Time: 10:57AM

    Your Comments (oldest first)

    Change to most recent first
    A fair enough summary. I think we have a good defender in Aubey without looking elsewhere but , as you said, he didn't get much of a look in so I think he will elect to go.
    Report Abuse
    27/05/2008 11:48:00

    good and fair summary on signings.totally agree with u on utaka,cranie and mvuemba.hope cranie gets a chance next season along with nugent and mvuemba.utaka was dissapointing with a hefty price tag £8mill that is a hit and miss.next season he has 2 improve all otherwise out of the team and gone.
    stfc ballboy
    Report Abuse
    27/05/2008 13:21:00

    Rug, as opinions go, excellent. I do not share your future optimism for Muntari and Utaka and keeping in mind what they cost, they were very bad deals.
    Report Abuse
    27/05/2008 18:24:00

    Great work Rug! Not everybody will agree with all you say, in fact you be be upset if they did. Some have been a success, some have not and some show promise. The big decision I think is over Baros and I agree it is all down to the price. Hermann is of course 'Toast's player of the year' and has now found he broke hos jaw in the Final.
    Report Abuse
    27/05/2008 19:22:00

    Most seemed to do ok who got the chance Muntari is class just has to know when to turn it on & when to play it simple I feel this will come as we know he is still young & yes Utaka has to prove something next season. Diarra & Distan magic, Herman plesantly suprised me.
    Report Abuse
    27/05/2008 20:29:00

    Good effort rug, a fair appraisal for all concerned. For those interested here are my end of term reports. Distain...A- Superb alround season. Hreidarsson...B+ Fine season, deserved Medal at the end'ish of career. Muntari...C+ Started well, poor second half. Cranie...C- Unfortunate for him and us a broken leg. Mvuemba...B- Been ok when given chance, need to see more. Nugent...C Unsure what to make of him, as he is of us/the Prem. Utaka...D+ When he tries, magnificent, the other 90% Ummmm. Johnson...B+ Welcome home Glen. RB is yours for the forseeable. Diop...C+ Played out of position for long periods, Nasa still looking for a couple of his goal bound efforts. Diarra...A, what else do i need to say? Potentially World Class. Aubey...D, would have liked to see more, sorry marked so low I've not alot to go on. Baros...D+ No Goals, plenty of running, but no goals, Can't give higher because strikers are bought to put the ball in the back of the net. Defoe...A- What a talent, what a striker. This Milan is what you are supposed to do. Possibly the unluckiest striker in the Prem this season. Leaves Spuds and misses a Uefa Cup run, A Carling Cup win, then is Cup Tied for us, must have cried more tears than John Iron Man gone rusty Terry! Well thats it, i've tried to be honest and not look through rose coloured specs. A Great season and cup winners only slightly spoilt for me due to the lack of adventurous football in the second half of the Season, but hey it got results.
    Report Abuse
    27/05/2008 20:44:00

    I think John Utaka has had his chance and should go. He has been just about the laziest player on the pitch. Did not realise we paid 8 mil for him- we woz robbed! I think Distin was our best addition, even ahead of Diarra cos I think we only have Diarra here for a little while and I think maybe Sylvain will stay. Very pleased you think Nugent should stay, cos I like him but am surprised re your comments on Cranie. I thought he had made some racist remarks and Harry probably would let him go?
    Report Abuse
    27/05/2008 21:02:00

    if utaka leaves, it will only come back and bite us. He is a fantastic talent - truly brilliant, and good enough to beat a team by himself. This season, i think he suffered from lack of fitness. he started well, then faded. after he had a break from injury, he came back strong again. i think he will improve more next season.
    Report Abuse
    27/05/2008 22:22:00

    Gandor, i started writing most if this prior to the comments that were 'claimed' about cranie, but my thoughts about him as a player have not changed - if those claims about him are true, then i will stand by the thoughts that he should be shown the door but we dont know they are true tho do we?
    Report Abuse
    28/05/2008 08:19:00

    i cannot see utaka 'coming back to bite us' if we let him go tbh carpet, as if he does go - which i doubt anyway - he would probably go back to france, so the chances of coming up against him again would be remote anyway...
    i dont think that anyone doubts his ability, he has bundles of it, but if he cannot be arsed then he doesnt have much hope - if he can put the effort in then we know what he can do, without offering that he offers us little at all. as i say i hope that we can see the real john utaka next season tho, but until we do - and regularly - i will not beleive it.
    Report Abuse
    28/05/2008 08:22:00

    With regard to Nugent, kranjcar and benjani both had a season to settle in at pompey. Something that players rarely get in the premier league (hello newcastle). Both players were superb in their second (full) season and hopefully Nugent can fulfill some of the potential he undoubtably has. Once he does score, his confidence will grow.
    The Rabbi
    Report Abuse
    28/05/2008 10:14:00

    Pretty accurate summary, I like Utaka, he's got a lot of talent which we saw at first but faded in the middle of the season, but as Harry says we'll see the best of him next season. It's always difficult for a player to settle in a new country, some come start well and fade. Others come never really get going and struggle for a while. Yet more start poorly then settle in and start to fly, i fully expect Utaka will fly next season. Nugent has been very limited in opportunities but there's a premiership player in there screaming for a chance to get out. He's strong, very quick has an eye for goal although he has been unlucky so far. he will come good. Baros maybe trying too hard to impress in the hope of a transfer, his movement is superb, something that perhaps other players have to get used to. He works hard but we've probably seen the last of him in a Pompey shirt. Don't feel the need to comment on Diarra, it's all been said already. Diop haven't seen the best of him as Harry insisted on playing him out of position for most of the season, would be better in the middle but there are plenty of players i'd pick in front of him even there.
    Steve C
    Report Abuse
    28/05/2008 12:14:00

    Agree pretty much with all of that mate. Distin and Herminator both more than surpassed expectation. Diarra is class, didn't know much about him before, but I know enough to see he is quality we must try and keep. Defoe (original defoeist you nad me Rug?) is exactly what I thought, a very very quick natural goalscorer. Johnno. OK, hands up here. I was dead against making hiim a permanent deal and said so quite forcefully. But, he has been awesome this year, hope he stays in the England fold for a long time.I havn't seen enough of Cranie to make up my mind. Munners. not done as much as I thought tbh, I expected more, loses the ball easy, will try to do the hard things instead of the easy, but his attitude seems ok so I think he'll do well next year. Utaka. Total load of crap! The mosy annoying thing is that he can do it, he just chooses not to. Wrong attitude there and if that doesn't change, he aint gonna make it next year. The Nuge, would love to see him do it. runs and runs, but with no avail last season although, strangely looked ok on the right of midfield at the cup final, better than utaka anyway. Baros. I swim against the tide here. I think he works so hard, runs and runs. I'd keep him tbh, think he can make things work for Jermaine up front. Diop,.. ok that's it. for a big man doesn't win much in the air. Good article as ever tho Rug.
    Report Abuse
    29/05/2008 00:54:00

    Wow, the first thing I notice is that we made so many signings! I think I agree with you on almost every point Rug, and so I won't repeat what you have already put too much. Next season will be crucial for Nugget, Muntari, Utaka and Diop as all will have to perform, and I hope they all do.
    Report Abuse
    29/05/2008 17:17:00

    good write-up Rug. The only thing I can add is that HR is a creature of habit and he makes decisions that often effects the performances of players. Aubey for example, a real talent in my eyes but heaven knows how lack of selection had effected his game. Also we comment on Distin not making the French national side but at the same time HR left out Matty on the verge of a call up and Mendes arguably one of best midfielders in Europe doesn't get a look in for months - how must this have effected their form?
    Report Abuse
    29/05/2008 20:39:00

    I don't think there was much wrong with Mendes' form at the Cup Final. He looked fantastic, always does to me.
    Report Abuse
    29/05/2008 23:48:00

    This was a really good Friday read ! Cheers Rug. Agree with most of it but like 007, I have my doubts about Utaka and Muntari. Hopefully they'll pick it up a notch when the squad gets bigger and they're pushed for places next season.
    Report Abuse
    30/05/2008 15:31:00

    Good point Toronto competition next season will bring the best out of 'lazy' players. On Johnson I was delighted when he signed permanent as I believed that he will be an excellent defender when he matures and will end up replacing Solid.
    Report Abuse
    30/05/2008 16:41:00

    Gandor, Pedro ALWAYS looks good to you!? We were talking about his ball skills!!...You?? ;-)
    Report Abuse
    30/05/2008 19:06:00

    Im with you Dave and Toronto, Johnno is a superb defender, can only get better, and he's got what he wanted an England call up. £ Pompey players in one team, it can only be good for us on the transfer front. Players now know that we're no longer an outpost overlooked by idiots (Mclaren)
    Report Abuse
    30/05/2008 19:10:00

    nice to see some praise for Johnno - always rated him!
    Report Abuse
    30/05/2008 19:37:00

    I think I may have been one of the only ones that was glad we picked up Glen, & was supprised Chelsea let him go.
    Report Abuse
    30/05/2008 20:41:00

    Pentonpompey - I'm was talking football. However, I could be drawn to make "extra-curricular" comments on one or two of the others!
    Report Abuse
    31/05/2008 02:02:00

    Hey I'm back ! The builders are out and I'm back in the house, so things are slowly getting back to normal. Good article Rug, I agree with most of what has been said, although I can't think of any "extra-curricular" comments I could make ;) Distin for me was the steal of the season but Hermann was (in my humble opinion m'lord) by far the player that offered so much more than we thought he would - Utaka been a waste of money so far as has Nuge if we are honest and Sulley hasn't really lived up to his pre-season reputation but we won the FA CUP so who am I to moan .... The new signings (when they come will be interesting)
    Report Abuse
    01/06/2008 08:36:00

    Utaka may do a Kranjcar, he did little first season did he?
    Report Abuse
    01/06/2008 09:07:00

    Agree a lot with Chix. Distin, brilliant. HH was the surprise package. Utaka, Diop & Nugnet still have a lot to do. Muntari can offer more but did well. Diarra & Defoe are presents from heaven.
    Report Abuse
    01/06/2008 18:03:00

    And, Glen just got better & Baros didn't do himself justice but the assist for the goal against WBA justifies his time with us.
    Report Abuse
    01/06/2008 18:06:00


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