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Am I foolish to fall for the right attitude?

'I am enjoying my football at Portsmouth', 'I want to prove what I can do' blah, blah, blah - we have heard it time and time again from John Utaka...

Yep, people will say 'the guy is a striker but we have rarely used him as a striker.'

That may well be the case, but no matter what position you are 'natural in' the basics of actually 'putting in a shift', or at least 'some effort' and 'looking interested' should be retained wherever you are played, right?

Lets be honest playing as a right winger is not something that the Nigeria is totally unfamiliar to playing as, this was done on many occasions in France and at international level.

To be honest I would not have been overly bothered if he left, but, and maybe foolishly so, I think I have been won over by some things that he told The News this weekend - that, and maybe the fact we seriously might need to keep as many as possible with numbers low...

Commitment, dedication, desire and effort for the shirt are qualities that I, well we, always want from Pompey players - a lack of quality is usually overlooked somewhat if you have those attributes...clearly Utaka has the talent is it just those other qualities mentioned have quite clearly been lacking!

Players that 'want to play for the club' are something that you clearly need and want, hearing him say 'I still have two years on my contract, so I still hope to be around' and 'I don't know (whether I'll be sold). I'll see how it goes. But I hope to be at Portsmouth next season' are plus points.

Maybe we cannot sell him if truth were known? But hearing him say he wants to stay, joining others in saying this, is a positive thing and the more players we have playing for us that actually do want to play for us the better!

Maybe we will always be left frustrated by the enigma that is John Utaka, put in a proper shift mate and you will win more and more over, if he can finally back up his words, which are always those of a 'world-beater', he might still be just that for us...then again, maybe not?


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The Journalist

Writer: pompeyrug Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday June 28 2009

Time: 9:12AM

Your Comments

Actions speak louder than words... Have seen too many 'I'll get better' & 'I owe the fans a performance' comments from him. Also he may be being played out of position but he's played on the right for us so often now he surely should have mastered that position by now.. A nice bloke and does a lot of community stuff for the club.. but as a player, he's had a fair crack of the whip with over 50 games played I'd say get shot
The very reason Utaka is so frustrating is because we do know he has the ability, we've seen occasional flashes of it. But its so annoying when we see him not really try. Although it has to be said that it was only a couple of matches last season when he was played in his proper position of striker, and he did well. Whilst I would like to see all Pompey players have Nugent's attitude and it shouldn't be up to a manager to motivate and get the best out of any player, sometimes at the top level the talented players are spoilt prima-donnas who need that. And I do wonder if with the right manager, who could motivate Utaka and would play him as a striker, he might turn into our secret weapon, into the top striker that we need to play alongside two-meter Peter. And it would be a shame to let him go without getting that from him if we can. Of course we don't know who the new manager is going to be, so there's no way to tell how he and Utaka will link up, but as we probably won't get much for Utaka anyway, I'd like to wait and see, at least till January.
Utaka, undoubtedly has talent. The trouble is it seems to be stuck in "Latent" mode. I've no doubt that if it all came to the fore he really would be a force to be reckoned with. There could be a lot of reasons Utaka hasn't delivered as yet. Maybe he's just like a boxer who has all the technical ability but lacks the killer instinct. If it's that, then he'll never deliver. Sport psychology is something I know nothing about, but what I do know is mind training can have incredible results. As tracyc mentioned. the right kind of manager could well be the answer. When I've seen Utaka interviewed he does come across as a very genuine and gentle man, an overall good human being. Maybe that's his Achilles Heel. As with the boxer...he lacks the killer instinct to bring out his latent talent. And that's why we all find him so frustrating. Give him until January.
He can change a game. we need players that can do that. And if he's saying he wants to stay, and play for pompey, all the better - however for the simple reason that - right now - he is practicly the only player that can open up a defence (even if it is three times in a season) in our team - he is worth keeping.
In all fairness Nugent is a striker who adapted to both right AND left wings pretty well. I'm not Nugent's biggest fan, and he's really surprised me tbh. Wilst Utaka's attitude is 100% spot on (and perhaps this is reason for him to stay?) his performances on the pitch haven't reflected this. I can turn around and say that "I want to prove myself to the Portsmouth fans" but it doesn't make me any better a player - when I get on that pitch I'd probably be laughed off!!
As Carpet mentions, he is the only player at the moment who looks like they could open up a defence and pull away from the defenders. A new manager could be just what was ordered. I have a feeling that next season will be his time, and then we will end up selling him to a bigger club.
Having seen what Utaka could do when he first came here i'm inclined to keep hold of him all the time he wants to be here unless a sensible offer comes in. My view is that as often happens with foreign players he hit the ground running then Defenders started to catch on and this made things more difficult, add to that being in a different country and his form suffered. He should be well adjusted to Britain now and i think he's worth another chance, at the figures that are being touted about as offers we haven't a lot to lose and plenty to gain if he comes good. He's not the first player to start well and then go of the boil you could name loads from around the premier league. Deco for one, who arrived with much bigger expectation than Utaka. Many talented players seem to go through a mixture of good and bad spells, when they're good they're untouchable when they're bad they're awful. Utaka strikes me as a confidence player and showing he's still wanted should boost his confidence and get the best out of him again. When Fans get on a confidence players back all they will do is make things worse.
Steve C
Utaka is ***** let him go he's had enough cjances.

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