What's happened to LuaLua?
I was sat watching the 2005/06 Pompey season review DVD 'the great escape… into a new era' - ESSENTIAL viewing for any Pompey fan - at the weekend, seeing Lomana LuaLua in all his glory - and this made me feel sad thinking about the player we all too often see now, a shadow of the player we once loved and worshiped, of course we still do but things are no longer the same.
Without question Pedro Mendes and 'those' goals proved the defining moment of that season but LuaLua - among others - played a major role in dragging us to safety, until his somewhat self-inflicted decline began, with him now gaining more front page attention for his off the field actions and antics than those unpredictable yet often magical moments on it, with his commitment to the club being severely questioned for the past 12-months.
I can only imagine what it must feel like to lose a child - this has never happened to me, and all being well kids I have will live on long after myself. This moment seemed the catalyst - and understandably so - for the moment things starting going down hill for LuaLua with the club. This moment clearly and obviously affected him, but maybe even more than he knows - and we all know how much he has said it has.
The death of his child and the constant injury and illness he picked up with Congo disrupted the early part of 2006. When he recovered - from the illness and injury, added to the return of his mentor Harry Redknapp a few months before LuaLua shone. He grabbed games by the scruff of the neck and won them for us at times leaving us looking like we would survive with ease! We were flying, LuaLua was flying but after scoring a crucial equaliser against Arsenal he took this too literally! As he attempted his trademark summersault he buggered his ankle and then missed the rest of the season - much to Redknapp's annoyance and ours.
The summer of 2006 looked very much as though it could have been his last, moves away were spoken of, the player spoke out in the media and so did Redknapp. Eventually a deal was struck and LuaLua stayed - as much as I like the fella, as frustrating as he is, in hindsight would letting him have gone have been such a bad thing?
Last season was blighted by injuries, a complete loss of form and a battle to win a first team place. Even when he was given the chance he did not take it, most notably the game with Watford at Vicarage Road. In this game he looked as if he had no interest in the game at all when he had been given a golden opportunity to prove to the club and the fans he was worthy of this surprise start. Needless to say he was soon hauled off! Even the United game before this as Rio Ferdinand scored a classic own goal LuaLua did not seem to appreciate this much - and even looked disappointed.
Like I have already said the fella frustrates the hell out of me, you and every other supporter as well as Redknapp, but he wants to keep him as he can show that unpredictable moment of pure genius to turn or win a game, so I was warming to the idea of basically writing off the 2006/07 season and starting afresh - until the reported Spanish interest. Osasuna - also keen on Kanu - are said to quite fancy the idea of allowing the 'unpredictable one' a chance of trying his hand in Spain and he is said to be more than tempted.
Maybe the fact that it used to be 'LuaLua's Portsmouth' when it was all about him, but it is now 'Portsmouth's LuaLua,' as we have many potential match winners now, is something that he does not really like? Recent comments attributed to him seem to suggest that he feels it should be about him? Maybe it is time to cut our losses and let him take up the challenge, as he seems to want?
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