Belhadj the key to success?
Manyoo have been on an indifferent run of form, I, like many others felt we 'could' see them returning to there best tonight, and with this they give us a good spanking!
Maybe this is my blind optimism, but I woke up today thinking 'you know what I think we 'might' actually get something out of this game' - hell, what is the point in us even bothering if we think we are gonna get spanked and it is a game we do not have a prayer in? I always hated the 'well no one expects us to get anything, it's a bonus game really' attitude that 'he' always had to these games.
The longer we can keep it at 0-0 the more chance we have of getting something.
Manyoo will see this as a game that 'they will win'; so the longer we can frustrate them the more chance we do actually have of getting something. They will start pushing on and this is when we must exploit the gaps that will appear, as they have against others in recent weeks, and take the chances we should get and for this I reckon Nadir Belhadj could prove the key to this success!
In his match preview (Pompey v Man U - here) paultsmouth picked him as the 'key player', and I totally agree, hence why I would select him without a doubt - and I would select him in the Niko Kranjcar 'free role' in this side...
Some might say it is 'too risky', but it is really? Is it any different to how we would have played anyway?
Granted Kranjcar has more technical ability, although saying that does he? Belhadj is one of the most skilful players I have seen us have for a long while, so he has skill and pace, maybe that lacking of 'creativity' does for him as opposed to the Croatian...
The guy can, and will, get up, down and around the park all day long so why not say to him 'just go out there and do it' - well get one of the French speakers to tell him anyway! I could see him covering so much ground and aiding our counter attacks so well.
Just imagine what a guy with his pace could do to Manyoo, it would frighten them, and 'if' the gaps did start to appear he would exploit them - once he got away from the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic they are not going to catch him, well not legally anyway!
There has to be a place for him in the side tonight.
It had been suggested that Dave Nugent 'could' play off Peter Crouch with Belhadj then on the left, but I reckon that Nugent's work rate and effort, not saying the Algerian does not offer this, means he would offer more protection to the Herminator and then Belhadj can just go and 'do his thing'.
I know we have to keep it tight, but if we go in with Sean Davis, Richard Hughes and Hayden Mullins across the middle, as I probably do suspect we will to be honest, then we have nothing going forward. At least by playing Belhadj and Nugent we have the ability to keep it tight, but also have that attacking ability to surprise Manyoo without being gun-ho..
PLAY UP POMPEY!