Portsmouth - The 'spine of the side'
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The 'spine of the side'

There has been a lot spoken about 'the spine' of the Pompey side recently, what this actually means and how you define this?

For me, the spine is the part that runs through the middle - goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and striker - regardless as to what the nucleus of this is nationality wise etc.

I think it is fair to say that this overall spine has been ripped out over the past 12-months or so, although 'the core' of the side is another way to look at it as the core, basically the quality I would say, has gone out of necessity.

To be honest I do not think that we can dwell or look back too much as it will not make a difference, we have to base 'this spine' on what we had in the most recent months, and what is now left - so the end of last season and summer months...

So, for me, based on a 4-5-1 formation - as looks like being 'the weapon of choice' - I would go as far as saying we still have, again from what we have most recently had, 75% of that intact and so long as this remains the case I retain hope that we have a chance!

Again, for me, this spine is David James, Sylvain Distin and Niko Kranjcar.

David James: Clearly the last line that needs breaching is the goalkeeper, if you have one of the best in the business - and James is still one of the best - you always have a chance! He will be under pressure this season as his final chance of world cup glory is at stake, if he plays well, and indication is he will get some practice, we will do ok. Although we cannot afford to leave it all to him!

If we lost Jamo we would be lost full stop...

Sylvain Distin: I have been pretty vocal about him in recent months but all in all we cannot afford to lose him now. His quality and experience will be invaluable and you would hope he would marshal the defence.

He needs to be 'on his game' mentally and physically though, if he is we will be ok - if not then he is not any help to us...

Niko Kranjcar: Playing behind the striker seems as though this is what he will do - he has done this to great success with Croatia, now we need him to do it for us, regularly! Things will go through him, so we have to make sure he is ticking.

There has been a lot of talk about 'should we sell before he leaves for nothing?' I have been in the 'yes we should' camp, but at this juncture I would rather he stayed, even if it meant he walked away for nothing next summer as he is just about the only creative spark that we have - again 'if' he shines you would hope we will, well maybe not shine more blossom.

The striker is where we struggle, this part of the spine is clearly missing and I am not convinced that Freddy is the answer? I am not even sure if he will play as the striking focal point? There is every chance he will play wide in the 5, which could become a 4-3-3.

Maybe we will be surprised and play 4-4-2, but that would leave Kranjcar surely having to occupy a wide left/right role as we could not risk him in the middle of a 4-4-2, could we?

As long as we keep these 3, in my thinking, the key elements of the spine I will be optimistic. If we lost 1, dependant of who it was, less so but still hopeful. More than 1 and I would worry.

I think the main man is James, lose him and I will be seriously, majorly concerned! So, as long as we keep these players and have some quality around them but most of all others that give 100% it is not all doom and gloom.

Regardless as to what does happen with the spine though we will never lose the heartbeat - the heartbeat is us, the fans, so as long as we keep beating so will Pompey...


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The Journalist

Writer: pompeyrug Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday August 6 2009

Time: 2:49PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
I think Diop is going to be a big hit and key to our season. If he can keep fit and gets played in the centre of the park along side basinas we'd have a pretty sold centre midfield. I too would like to see Krancjar operate behind the strikers as its his best position by far. I do think your wrong about Freddy though. He's big, quick, strong and has an eye for goal (when playing up front) I think he'll be a hit this season. Hopefully he can get his first goal in quickly as that's always the hardest when joining a new club :)
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06/08/2009 15:10:00

Sometimes I think that we are worrying for nothing! We have some very good players (players like other clubs who will be around us next season don't have) like those mentioned above, Freddy (I agree with you Bowlsey), Basinas, Diop, and Hermann. All these players are recognised internationals and they do not play at International level for nothing!
Pompey Malta
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06/08/2009 15:34:00

I afree we do have some good players left but i can not see the three you mention staying, but fi they do with diop and another quick striker and a good midfielder we could -and i think we will surprise a few....I am still depressed at the state of the club and i fear the worst i really do i fear that Saf will not complete takeover and we will go into adninistratiin
plymouth graham
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06/08/2009 16:20:00

I know it's easy enough to say, but worrying about it ain't gonna fix the situation. I reckon if we can manage to hold on to most of who we want to we'll pull through. It'll be bloody tough, but there'll be a few around us who aren't to hot as well. And if the worst does happen....we'll just have to deal with that the best we can. But at this present time we're in the EPL and going into a new season, and you never know we might even surprise ourselves.
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06/08/2009 16:38:00

The only one of the three I feel is nailed on to stay is Jamo - there could be decent money offers come in for either Distin or Kranjcar, and if they do, they'll be sold. There was talk of Distin being offered a new deal, but we haven't heard anymore about it, so I guess he didn't agree to sign it. We'll just have to wait and hope for the best. After all, all 3 are still with the club at the moment. Cornypomp is right, doom and gloom is just depressing, and theres no need for it yet when things haven't turned out wrong yet.
Report Abuse
06/08/2009 18:39:00

Apparently Pompey aren't convinced of the merits of Zaki especially as his club want some money!
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06/08/2009 19:07:00

Distan could be the most likely to move, as there are many prem teams looking for central defenders, But the deal has been offered apparantly so maybe he's waiting on the Doctor, if Nugent goes (to pay the bills) it may give us time not to sell others until the Doctor takes the rains, & I for one believe he will.
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06/08/2009 19:10:00

It's a big ask to not expect two of the above to not miss 2 or 3 games through injury
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06/08/2009 19:30:00

Just want a little rant about Droopy Dog/Baggy Face/Jamie's Dad - I was listening to the news on Radio 5 Live on my drive home from work and 'he who shall not be named' is quoted as saying he 'was aware of the club's debts whilst he was at Portsmouth'. No s***! Really? I know it wasn't entirely his fault he was allowed to spend all of that money, he should have been controlled, but to come out as if to say "Well I could see the writing on the wall, so I bailed" when it was him who was a prime reason for the problems is just incredible. As Droopy himself says, "that makes me mad!!" Rant over.
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06/08/2009 19:41:00

Spineless is what are at the moment. Do you honestly believe we will have no other players going this month? Hart being over defensive. No real attacking quality. A team of youth, untried prem players & old heads with 1 year last pay day contracts. Smells of a disaster. Sorry to be the voice of doom but that is how I see it as of now. Happy to be proved wrong!!!
Report Abuse
06/08/2009 21:12:00

For the good of the club sell Krancjar while he has a value .. even more so if we are pinning all our hopes on him being the 'one' creative spark we have.. forget what he does for his country he has NEVER been consistent for Pompey and never will be his lacks application... it you remember this time last year he couldn't even be bothered to shift his weight for pre-season .. Sell Sell Sell ... There the cat is amongst the pidgeons once again.
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06/08/2009 21:35:00

It is going to be a tough season but I think Kranj could provide some much needed creativity up front. Better to stick with him than sell him for 3mill. A more impressive feat would be to sell Utaka
Report Abuse
06/08/2009 23:53:00

Kranjcar I always thought would be off in January. Although doesn't his contract run out next summer? We could lose him for nothing. If that's the case get gone NOW.
Report Abuse
07/08/2009 00:51:00

Can I just say here that I will never forgive the Ginger Tw@t for giving Pedro Mendes away to Rangers.
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07/08/2009 07:48:00

I hear what you're saying rug but I don't see a backbone in kranc and he's not a striker... if you'd put a convincing central midfielder or 15 goal a year striker in that line up I'd probably feel better about it.
Report Abuse
07/08/2009 08:00:00

you can only put in what you have jim - if we had a player of either type for what you say they would have been in it...

agree Et_tu, it still haunts me now that we 'sacrified' pedro, altho im also abit *****ed at davis now - by not going we then had to get rid of pedro, then what does davis do a year later? despite saying over and over he wanted a new deal? he walks out...despite being offered this new deal...
Report Abuse
07/08/2009 08:03:00

I know you would Rug... it's not a dig... it's a feeling... no spine is no spine.... may be Basinas could be the heartbeat there in the midfield... I hope to hell he is... was with coupla greeks midweek and they love him and still think he's fantastic
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07/08/2009 08:45:00

Chix, sorry to tell you but you are an idiot, if you knew what football was and watched the games AND used your brain you would see, Kranjcar is the most intelligent and by far the best player in Portsmouth, he sold players like Glen Johnson single handedly, who was down and out when he got here and Kranjcars intelligence, assists and SWITCHING to involve Johnson brought him back to life and gave him confidence and a new lease......last season he was injured also but if you look at the games everything worth mentioning in this team starts from Kranjcar without him you can sign your relegation papers right now......ps. I hope he leaves and you remember this post when ur in second division you dumb ungreatful ***** and you wonder why he dosen't sign a new deal for who?????......
Report Abuse
09/08/2009 03:22:00

Kranjcar is a player of intelligence who makes any idiot who is willing to run and work hard around him better eg, Benjani, Johnson....
Report Abuse
09/08/2009 03:24:00


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