Date:Tuesday March 31 2009
'Peter Crouch was March's player of the month', not my vote, yours - although these findings from pompeyrug's poll are thoughts that I would probably agree with to be honest.
Peter Crouch - 35%
It was hard to really judge anyone in the rain against Chelski as the footballing month started, but all gave their all in that game that we were cruelly beaten 1-0 in. Boro away, the big man of course finally broke his duck of not scoring for so long with his fine half volley from the edge of the area. His greatest moment, goalscoring wise, came in the 2-1 win over Everton last time out as his double set us on the path to what is hopefully now survival...
3 goals in 2 games, all 3 of our goals from the 3 games played in March, shows how important Crouch was from a goalscoring point of view but as always with him it was his work rate, commitment, desire and determination that had as much to do with him being voted the player for March for me. He is not a lone striker, but he is doing a fantastic job up top on his own, as he always does - and although his mobility is not great maybe this job is allowing those that still could not be convinced by him that he really is a talented footballer, and very important football for Pompey!
Crouch has had a habit in his career of not scoring for ages, but when he does score he usually hits a real purple patch, so all being well he will return from international duty and continue at Hull where he left off against Everton...
Glen Johnson - 18%
Do we really have to say anything about Johnson, is there anything that can be said that has not been said countless times before?
Paul Hart said he was one of the best full backs in the country, without a doubt right up their with the very best right backs - well the man, even though he is of course Pompey manager, does not lie. The right back spot is Johnson's to nail down for England now, I just hope that this is nailed down as a Pompey player for some time to come yet. Yep, he signed a new contract in January but we all know contracts mean little but 'when' we stay up, so long as we do not look to cash in on him I cannot see him looking to move on just yet, even though plenty of people feel he is 'nailed on' to go...
We always know what we are going to get from him, solid against Chelski, sadly those already mentioned conditions could not really allow him to get forward as much as usual. At Boro he got up and down the pitch like he always does to great effect. His quick thinking on the short corner set up Crouchy for the goal and he was always a threat to the Boro boys going forward, keeping them quiet coming forward.
For the best part of a year I think we were all crying out for Johnson to be pushed forward into right midfield - injury to Jermaine Pennant saw this against Everton, and the link-up that he and Younes Kaboul had was really good. Myself, I think he was not as effective going forward as he usually is from a deeper role but he still did a good job in both areas and this is something else we could look at again but I would also still like to see Johnson and Marc Wilson combined on the right, and so long as he stays this could happen next season when Kaboul moves inside...
The Herminator - 12%
Well, what can you say about the Herminator? He continues to defy age - 34-years-old and looks as eager to play as ever, and as up for the fight, energetic and lively as always. He pops up all over the shop, but the best thing is he is as mobile enough to do this, even if the pace is not quite what it once was - although to be fair pace has never really been one of his real assets.
The left back spot is his for the rest of the season, injuries and suspensions permitting, and this is in very safe hands. I always liked the Nadir Belhadj and Armand Traore combination down the left, as this offered us some of the best attacking football down that flank I think I have probably ever seen us play, but defensively it always left us looking somewhat suspect. The Herminator and Nugent pairing leaves us a lot tighter, and is a near must at this point in time. He is doing enough to earn a new contract, and 'if' he gets it Belhadj, who will again play much more next season, could learn plenty from him to become our future...
Best of the rest
Niko Kranjcar picked up 11%, and to be fair using him in the 'free role' behind Crouchy is the best thing for us to do, as that is his best position to get the most out of him. I also think that his work rate, something he gets knocked for a lot, is up much more than it might usually be. If this because he is playing in that role that best suit him, or is this form to 'earn that move' he wants?
Sol Campbell, often slated this season by most including myself, picked up 6% but for me this should have been more. Throughout March, and the latter part of February, he was looking his best and had an absolute stormer for me against Everton - proof I think that if Sol is 'happy mentally' he is usually happy on the pitch too. His pace is not what it was, but he is still no slouch and his positional sense - when he is on his game - is second to none, and this can be worth so much.
Dave Nugent, only 5% but there as a huge contribution for this amount - it just how good those ahead of him were, same goes for David James another with only 5% but he made some fine and vitally important saves against Chelski and at Boro. I also think that Hayden Mullins is worth a mention even though he only picked up 2%. Very much in the Sean Davis mould, but for me, despite not being a major fan of his I felt he did have a better month than Sean - I am not convinced that the pair can, or even should, play together regularly next season and do not think they will anyway as I still have this feeling that Mullins probably is Sean's replacement as he will leave?
All in all though the fact that every player that started a game throughout March picked up some sort of vote shows that it really was a 'team effort', even if some stood out more than others...
Date:Tuesday March 31 2009
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