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Pompey boys - John Utaka

The seventh signing of the summer came on the same day as they sixth when the 11th July saw both John Utaka and David Nugent unveiled at the same Pompey press conference. He cost an initial 6m, but various additions should eventually see this rise to a club record 8m.

Not a lot is really known about Utaka to me and I cannot say that I had personally seen him play, or at least remember seeing him play before he came to Pompey, but Harry Redknapp had been tracking him for the best part of a year.

The Nigerian international has already played in Egypt and Qatar but became more familiar to the European market when he first moved into the French game in 2002.

In three years with Lens he averaged a goal every 4 games, but since moving to Rennes, where he played alongside Arnold Mvuemba, his strike rate has improved to a little better than a goal every 3 matches.

Although he can play as an out and out attacker, he can also play just off a front man, as well as out wide - which appears to be his best position due to his blistering pace and ability on the ball.

There is absolutely no way that Redknapp would have risked his own reputation, let alone Pompey's by paying so much money if he was not sure of success - and in the limited time I have seen him in a Pompey shirt he looks full of promise.

He is certainly not short of confidence and his pace should cause problems for most defences in this league.

I would expect to see him used mostly as a wide attacker, which is where he excelled against Bournemouth in a pre season friendly before he was injured - and Redknapp has since said this is where he intends to use him most frequently too.

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The Journalist

Writer: pompeyrug Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday August 7 2007

Time: 8:22AM

Your Comments

Looks like Utaka will play the majority of the season on the right side, probably at the expense of Gary O'Neil, but if the press 'god bless em' have got it right tho, he may be of to Boro. Liked what I've seen so far of Utaka and his pace on the right will definately cause sides a few problems. Can't see him starting as a striker tho not with the other guy's we've got plus the Yak back?
blarmy
i still think that o'neil has a big part to play too, but agree mate utaka will most likely play most of his football - at least this season - out wide... in a few minutes against the cherries in pre season he looked a different player in the 2nd half to the one that played the 1st as an out and out striker...
pompeyrug
Utaka will be like Benjy and need a season to see what goes on in the Premiership. If he is as quick as Harry has stated then he should be ok, as we all know that there is no substitute for sheer pace. If he plays wide right what about Garry?I just hope that he is not sacrificied as that would really put the pressure on Utaka to produce, and produce quickly, however Harry rates him so lets see what he can do.
Owenspompey
Welcome. Let's hope he can settle quickly.
storagematt
well, quick, skillful, and 13 goals a season (hopefully from the right midfield) - he sounds perfect. This could let gary come in, and play more in his favoured central midfield, as mendes is no-longer a spring-chicken. The optimum trhing for the club, would be to have no "first chice" right midfield playor - or any position for that matter, and to have everyone vying for places. We have 2 playors for every position now - or more, so hopefully all will get there chance to prove there worth, depending on performances.
pompeycarpet
i cant see Mendes being replaced by O'Neil they are different animals, GON works his socks off as does Mendes./ GON will never give up but to look at i think Pedro oozes class. I would also say that as much as GON has turned games for us when there is no Thatcher or Barton around Pedro is the more consistent performer, how often do you see him waste a ball.
russellm
LoL the other thing is if GON does leave he will go staright into the England squad, i have it on good authority that two seasons ago it was going to happen but minger Mac's sat nav goes blank at woking
russellm
tbh i cannot see o'neil leaving, not this season anyway... depending on how much he plays, or doesnt play then next summer might be different? mendes is fantastic, so will miss very few games, muntari looks far more affective alongside him so unless he goes out to the left you cannot see o'neil playing much in the middle can you? there will still be a place for him tho as we will use alot of players this season - we will have to.
pompeyrug
I would think Utaka will come off the bench as an impact player and either go up front or use his pace out wide. I hope he turns out to be as good as Harry thinks he is and gets 10 goals plus for us.
Owenspompey
 

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