Harry Redknapp now has a team underneath him that is capable of actually winning things, but also has the luxury of competition for places, particularly in midfield. Will this bring trouble in a team that`s used to knowing the first choice eleven, or will it bring some semblance of glory to Fratton Park?
It`s an obvious question, but with a less obvious answer. It seems a no-brainer that competition for places increases the ability of a team, but it has to be done with the right players and in the right team. Liverpool have now fielded a changed line up 98 times in a row, and although it`s necessary to rest some players during a season, the constant changes seem to upset the balance.
On the other hand, teams like West Ham (well, last season`s team anyway) thrive on the competition, every player taking his chance to impress the manager and attempt to force his way into the starting line up.
But are Pompey that kind of team? Sean Davis has recently lost his starting place in midfield to new boy Manuel Fernandes, and Dean Kiely has been displaced by David James and his imperious displays between the sticks. Cue the media vultures predicting a loss of these players in the January transfer window. What has happened to the mentality of a football player if it means that being dropped automatically signals a transfer?
If any team is to thrive in the league or cup, a good depth to the squad is essential. As soon as Pedro Mendes or Fernandes are injured or suspended, we need a player to step into the breach. Without a player of Davis` ilk, Portsmouth are in trouble.
You do have to feel sorry for the dropped players, as they were instrumental in the run that kept Portsmouth in the Premiership, and it seems their efforts are unrewarded if they`re suddenly not playing, forced to kick their heels on the bench. But loyalty doesn`t run as far as the team sheet, and if Redknapp believes another player is capable of doing a better job, then he has to keep faith in that, rather than appeasing others.
With the fame and money being lavished around the Premiership, as well as more televised games and longer highlights, players are now more desperate than ever to play first team football, so will jump at the chance to get on the pitch, with whoever comes calling. This leads to weak reserve teams, and without a good back up, the Premiership season becomes long and unfruitful.
I could be very wrong, and Pompey could have a happy squad content the way they are. But even before the season started, Kiely voiced his upset at the signing of James, so it`s likely that some people may not be overly happy at the new influx.
So the case may be that Portsmouth are not ready to put together a squad rather than a brilliant first team, maybe they have to consolidate with the players they have rather than looking ever upward.
But Redknapp is ambitious, the same as every other Portsmouth fan, and I think I speak for many when I say that anyone who thinks they are too good to battle for a place in the Pompey line-up can leave, and not let the door bang them on the a**e when they walk away from Fratton Park and the chance to help awake a sleeping giant. After all, medals last longer than a few 8 out of 10`s in the tabloid`s match reports.
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