Talking Pompey with ChrisW
Vital Pompey has previously brought you the 'knowing me knowing you series' - which is still running, so others will be added and if you want to do one just email - now we have a little something extra this summer...
ChrisW was asked 5 quick questions, this is what they said.
The optimist in me hopes for improvement over last season and I can see us finishing higher in the league but let`s face it, 2 Cups in a row might be a bridge too far. Talking of Bridges, our opening game will tell us much. No doubt, in true Harry Houdini style our squad won't be complete until the last possible minute of the transfer window, but we should be able to give them a better game than we did last year. In saying that, many neutrals saw us as the better team, but of course goals = points and unless you score you walk away in most instances empty handed.
My worry amongst all of this is that the arrival of Defoe, undoubtedly a coup par excellence, set in stone a series of events that virtually dictate our formation this coming season. Whereas last year saw us improve mostly on our travels using a cast iron 4-5-1, having Defoe means we will almost certainly consign 4-5-1 to the history books and will no doubt be playing 4-4-2 or a true 4-3-3 in most of our premiership games. [note: for those of you that missed the news, Pompey won the FA Cup, and we are in Europe!]. I have no doubt that we will be stronger than 10 or 12 teams next year home and away, but I have serious doubts as to how Harry will build a team that wins by power of attack rather than power of attrition as was the case last year. Not saying we can't, but switching from a packed midfield to a packed attack is no easy task - Keegan did it at the Toons, but he has a pretty unique front line - can we acquire similar in the next month or so? I doubt it. In saying that Harry surprises me weekly, and mostly they are pleasant surprises. If he doesn't do so well in the market then shock -horror we might see our FA Cup formation being used again the league, and I can't see Defoe standing [or sitting on the bench] for that.
Overall, Pompey should achieve more next year, not by winning Cups, but I expect us to be more consistent and hopefully we shall return Fratton to its true Fortress status and I look forward to seeing the big boys getting a spanking as used to be the case a couple of seasons back when we had half the team we have now.
Put it this way, Pompey aren't ready for the Champions League, so if nothing else the UEFA Cup will be a useful experience. Can we win it? Sure we can win it. But remember, last year we didn't have the squad for the CUP and the League and Harry had to make a choice, and he chose wisely. This year, we have arguably an even bigger challenge in Europe and given it's our first attempt I reckon Harry [or should I say Harry and the Board] will decide to concentrate on domestic competitions and see how far they can get in Europe without compromising the principal domestic objectives. Although Everton for one may have wished that they had taken Europe more seriously, given they ended they ended a great season with nothing of substance.
Given, with the exception of Muntari, very few us foresaw Harry's signings in 07, who knows who he will sign in the coming weeks. If Crouchie does come then I reckon he and Defoe will be serious contenders for the Prem's top strike partnership, although that will give Capello a headache. I can't see him playing James, Johnson, Defoe and Crouch in the same England team, immaterial of merit. As for Wingers, I can't see Glen Little being Harry's first choice, not saying he won't perform, but he hasn't proven himself in the Prem and may end up holding hands with Nugent in the reserves. I expect we will end up with SWP or Lennon or similar. I think Bentley is beyond our reach if only because the siren of the top 4 calls loudest. One thing is for sure; we will have at least one new signing in the same mould as Kranjcar and Utaka. Players that came from relative obscurity into the bright lights of the Prem.
Many of you will offer Utaka's head but I think he will perform this year, if not for us then somewhere else in the Premiership. So I'd like to see him stay. Our two most sought after players, if you believe what you read, are Kranjcar and Diarra and I'd be happy to see either go as long as the sacrifice was for the greater good [think Benjani]. Diarra is just too selfish for my liking and despite touches of brilliance is too often a liability. He could have cost us the Semi Final against WBA, luckily he didn't. Kranjcar always looks to me as if he needs to go on a serious exercise regime. I appreciate he is a lot fitter than last year, but he needs the help of a professional development coach if he is to perform at the top level. But on the other hand he can turn matches with his technique and only Kanu, of any player in the Prem, has better close ball control. As I write this, I am thinking perhaps we should add Diarra to that list - how far we have come guys when three of the leagues best technicians resides within our ranks. Oh and did I mention David James, from what I saw at Euro08, probably the best keeper in Europe right now.
I share season tickets with the family so I expect to get to 10 or 12 home games with the odd away game. My local team Reading has been relegated so that's not an option and Hull looks a bit fishy to me. I'd like to do one European away game, that should be fun!
BTW, I'm looking forward to the North Stand toilets being renovated if anybody at Fratton Park happens to be reading this. Oh yes, Mr. Bloke in row C, D or E circa seats 120-125, North Stand, please stop shouting mindless obscenities, there's a good chap.
Thanks to ChrisW for answering these.
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