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...
PLAY UP POMPEY!