Date:Wednesday January 21 2009
Commitment dedication & trust
Three words that Portsmouth Football Club should live by to avoid the drop.
Let's face it; we have had a fairly torrid time recently.
We have seen a manager and two players leave, and not much come in to replace them. Granted, Adams is slowly but surely gaining my trust as our manager, and the departure of a certain little man appears to have changed the morale of the squad for the better, but what else is happening?
We are constantly told deals are in 'advanced stages', we will be 'safe from relegation', and that there is 'no need to worry', yet as I type, three players have knocked back offers to join us and two clubs have scrapped deals at the last minute.
We have however managed to seal a deal with one player, the on-loan Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant.
That said, the manner in which he arrived (stating even before he had rolled through the doors of Fratton Park that he wanted to stay at Anfield), has me raising a large and ominous question-mark over his head. The last thing we need is another Defoe!
The fact remains that the bookies currently have us down as 3rd favourites for relegation and although Pennant will have a chance to prove himself this weekend the jury is still out and my hand is firmly pressed against 'the panic button'
Doom & Gloom?
But hang on a minute - Is it really that bad?
We were told, mainly by the press and pot-stirrers, that we would see our players jump from a sinking ship this January. Really? Who?
Ok, Lassana was a huge loss, a true inspiration for our midfield, but didn't he say on the day he joined that he would not be here for long and back it up by stating that whilst he was playing in the hallowed Canterbury shirt, he would give it his all?
Give his all he did and look at him now - A £20m switch to the team he wanted to play for as a child; his one true dream.
His time at Pompey made that happen and he has shown his respect. Only last week he was quoted in the Spanish press as saying Pompey would always be his second favourite team (after Real Madrid) and that he wished us the best of luck with our season. A top bloke who has shown us respect. I just hope the issue about him not being able to play for in The Champions League does not take the sweetness away from his dream move.
Respect and Loyalty
Respect and loyalty are traits not often seen in football these days. Loyalty in fact is a word that seems to have nearly lost its meaning altogether.
There are a select few who decide to stay with their teams and give it their all and they are regularly rewarded by the respect and appreciation shown by their fans. It may not be money, but to the loyal player it is as good as, and that is what matters.
Pompey of course have some loyal players. Primus is one name that springs straight to mind, as does Richard Hughes - Two players who have put a tremendous amount of effort, time, blood, sweat and tears into the club but we also have another bunch that are starting to become a rarity in the modern game. Committed players, dedicated to the team that they chose to move to.
Take a look at our squad.
Some claimed Peter Crouch would be off - Did he go? Erm, nope, he is still here, and he is happy too - Well why wouldn't he be? He's getting the recognition he has deserved for a long time, with regular first-team football and a gift of scoring some truly tremendous goals. The overhead against Stoke is testament to that.
Next, the media vultures circled Glen Johnson, who swiftly shut them up by signing a four-and-a-half year extension to his contract.
As I type, the vultures are being batted away from Niko Kranjcar, as reports surface that the love-him-or-loath-him Croation international is set to pen an extension to his contract as well - Have you noticed a trend yet?
There have been at others as well. David James, Sylvain Distin and Hermann Hreidarsson - Although his reasons for staying put are shrouded in mystery - Hell, I even read in one paper that Nadir Belhadj was nearly taken from under our noses before he signed a permanent deal.
Why the Change?
All of the players mentioned were average at their previous clubs before they turned up at Fratton Park. Their time at Pompey has made them what they are today - Fantastic players, who have realised that and are repaying us with their dedication to the club that bought them this new found attention.
It seems that this dedication malarkey will strike again too. This time in the form of a 23 year old one-time international that goes by the name of David Nugent.
That name will ring around Redknapps' ears for weeks to come. The one man who had been written-off, almost since the day he joined us. I think it is fair to say, he is one of the most committed of all. No loan moves, no transfer requests, no moaning, no regrets.
Nugent he has always been there, working away, trying to gain the respect of his now former manager and now, it is his time to shine, and good grief, you know he will put his all into it.
So, the panic button has been turned off. I have sat down and thought about it, and have a reached a simple conclusion:
We may not be out of the woods, but we have got something that a few other teams are sorely lacking - Players who are proud to wear the gold, white and blue of Portsmouth Football Club.
As long as we have those kind of players at Fortress Fratton, I am sure that in the words of the great Winston Churchill
"We will never surrender"
Date:Wednesday January 21 2009
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