Could not have asked for more...
...apart from a goal or 2 of course!
All I asked for prior to the Manyoo game - as I do any game - was effort, commitment and the desire to win... I for one think that we got this on Monday.
I like to think that I do my best to remain unbiased as often as possible, but clearly every now and again the moon and star specs come down, but I honestly thought that we were well worth a point against Manyoo! Most I speak to agree, although others have disagreed - the common theme with these opinions though is those that felt we deserved something were at Fratton on the night, those in the main that were not so sure were not in attendance and watched it on the box. Does watching a game on the box really make that much difference?
From where I sat - in the North Lower - I felt we were good for most of the game, very good at times, and contained the threat that Manyoo offered very well, apart from a spell early in the 2nd half when they were well on top - even then we did enough to keep them out.
Our main problem was once again the long standing one - we just do not look like carving out that many openings for the strikers, and without this you cannot score can you but against a team like Manyoo any that you can fashion must be taken as you will not get that many! Armand Traore and Glen Johnson offered an outlet going forward, and did get the ball into the box occasionally but this was coming from some 15-20 yards further back than we wanted, which was again due to the fact we were so narrow in midfield so with no outlet ahead of them - so more often than not this was the only option, and the quality of ball into the box clearly is much more difficult from midway inside the half than it is on the edge of the box. We could not expect them to keep going from one touchline to the other all night could we...
John Utaka offered some skills but again did not offer enough in his short time on the pitch to suggest that this season will be any different to the last - but we will see. I would think that we must be ruing his 'rumoured' decision to reject the move to Lille though... Jerome Thomas looked lively enough - even if he was completely one sided, this one side being his right despite being a left winger - and did enough to warrant a possible starting place, or at least a decent airing as a sub again against Everton at the weekend.
Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe, especially the big man, are coming in for a fair amount of criticism with the pairing doubted by many - but I remain convinced that they can and will be very potent, but they cannot do anything without service can they!
Having to constantly come deep to feed on scraps is not helping, and our insistence on punting it long to Crouch - due to the lack of width and creativity already mentioned - as we have no other outlet is seeing him blamed more and more... Remember though these games were against Chelski and Manyoo, so knowing Harry Redknapp as we do he was always more likely to be reluctant to go with wingers on each side of the pitch, against lesser sides we 'should' get this, and with it more width - I would hope anyway...
We have quality players, and I feel sure Redknapp and co will be working around the clock to make us even stronger with him looking to bring in others by the end of September 1st - be it on loan or in the form of free agents. Yet despite only a couple of defeats, and against two of the best sides in Europe some are already calling for his head! Sorry, but are these people f**king mad? Do they suddenly 'expect' us to beat both Chelski and Manyoo all of a sudden?
Whilst we should never accept defeat, or accept games as ones that we will 'write off' - getting nothing from these games means little or nothing at this stage of the season... Come the end of October 'if' we are still languishing at the foot, or near the foot, of the table fair enough start to ask questions, but to be doing so after defeats to these two sides - who will most likely be the ones contesting the title - is ludicrous and these defeats do not mean we are in for a disastrous season. 'If' we were in a similar position to the one we are now having played the types of fixtures the likes of Arsenal, Villa, Spurs and so on had played I would be much more concerned, but as we played well enough against Manyoo, with a massive improvement to that against Chelski, I am content.
The wins and the goals will come, and if we can offer up a similar display against Everton this weekend to that one we gave against Manyoo we will not do bad and will have a very good chance of picking up our first win of the season.
We are getting there, lets not ever accept second rate showings or be content with second best, but lets look to the positives of the vast improvement we showed on Monday and also try to keep the recent events, and the two defeats suffered in perspective...
PLAY UP POMPEY!