Portsmouth - Utaka took 5 games to settle?
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Utaka took 5 games to settle?

John Utaka has spoken to The News to say that although he found the going tough at first he soon settled in to life in the premier league: 'I remember the first game I played against Derby, it was very hard because the pace was too much for me.

'It was difficult to breathe!

'When the ball came to me, I tired to slow the game down, but it was not easy.

'I think it took me five games to really get used to it.'

The article praises Utaka and the transition that he has made to become the latest Nigerian to star in the premier league, which although I am sure he will I do not think he has quite been as good as he might be made out to be so far?

Whilst I do not like being overly critical of players my own personal thinking is that Utaka's opening 5 games or so have been his best for us, and since then he has been, to put it bluntly, basically poor on the whole...

I do not doubt his ability and feel sure he will get over this current slump in form but I do not think that he has made as big an impact as had been hoped, but then again he was renowned in France for blowing 'hot and cold'.

He went onto talk about the physical nature of the English game and how he has found this the toughest transition to get through: 'Physically, it is very tough.

'In France, there are fouls that would be given, but over here - no way.

'It is the nature of the game here and Blackburn was probably the toughest team so far like that.

I look forward to seeing Utaka getting back to his very best and while I do hope this happens soon my own thinking is that I do not think that a spell out of the side will do him any harm in the long run.

So personally I would not mind seeing Matty Taylor given a start this weekend against Everton to see what the wing play using Niko Kranjcar and Taylor would be like, which did look okay again City recently when we last played at Fortress Fratton


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The Journalist

Writer: pompeyrug Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday November 29 2007

Time: 1:50PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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I gotta agree with you, I would like to see Niko over on the right wing, he seems to use his right foot when crossing so it would be better for him to be on the right and I would like to see Taylor play some, I dont want to see leave the club and he needs to be given some playing time, especially when other players (Utaka, in this case) are not playing up to par, the more competition the better the play, the manager should never reward mediocre performances with more playing time as has been done with Utaka recentyl
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29/11/2007 15:04:00

I agree too - isn't the whole point of having competition for places that if a player is a bit under par they lose their place for a while and have to fight to get it back. Lets see Matty on Saturday!
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29/11/2007 15:45:00

I agree whitestones - much as I admire Niko, I think the fact he always has to cut inside onto his right foot means we can't get the crosses in from the left that I'd like to see. Play him on the right and get Matty on the left (maybe the chance for another 45 yarder!?). But I still think Utaka frightens the opposition when we get the ball to his feet. He gets marked v tightly these days and too many balls to him seem to be lumped in high which he clearly isn’t going to get given his lack of height!
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29/11/2007 15:57:00

niko is great out on the left. its just matty is also great, and niko can play well on the right too, and i agree - utaka has been slightly underperfoming recently. HOWEVER, i have a feeling that if 'arry were to play matty and kranjcar, he might go 4-4-2, with either Utaka or kanu alongside benjani?
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29/11/2007 17:29:00

I'm not 100% sure the 'new' 4-5-1 tactic suits Utaka totally. In the early games of the season he was allowed to cut in more and work as a striker from the right which left Lauren exposed and let's be honest Lauren was/is pretty awful for us. I'd like to see us try Niko on the right, Matty on the left and Utaka up front like carpet said. Just, I wouldn't drop Benjani because of his strength. Ahhh isn't it great to be able to talk about selection issues with Pompey?
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29/11/2007 18:32:00

utaka hasnt been on the best of form - i know he cost £7m but this shouldnt mean he keeps playing even if he isnt performing... i do agree that the 4-5-1/4-3-3 isnt really working at home but the thing is tho if we do go 4-4-2 unless utaka did play alongside benji - altho i would like to see nuge personally - who will be left out if taylor and krunchie played it would be 2 from 3 in the middle out of muntari, bouba diop and davis - and all 3 are hard to leave out... selection headaches for 'arry, but good ones!
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29/11/2007 23:08:00

Five games to settle I didn't realise he had... he's fast yes, high impact yes but I'm not sure we have seen anything to warrant his price tag so far. Whether we will see a change of players on Saturday remains to be seen but I can't help agreeing with most of the posts.. Swap Niko's wings and bring Matty back in a 442 with Nugent and Benji up front... It'll be interesting to see what Harry does ...Everton will be no pushoovers but we at home and should expect to see a win soon.
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30/11/2007 13:18:00

we all know that we will be disappointed really dont we! as much as we might want a 4-4-2 and nuge and matty taylor to start i bet we only get one of these things - if any - the 4-4-2... we have to put trust in 'arry tho, he will do what he sees fit and best.
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30/11/2007 14:30:00

Which 5 do we refer to.
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30/11/2007 17:38:00

if we were to play nuge, and matty, then that would/could bring us down to just one african player in our team, (other than benjani) - and that would do us great, particually in regards to a possible problem january - and the team would hopeflly still perform well too!!!
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30/11/2007 20:43:00

But Utaka is one of those players that Hal regards as 'untouchable', there have been a few over the years.
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03/12/2007 17:03:00

agreed, but it doesnt make it right does it... i thought he was quiet again on saturday - but could it be that he isnt getting enough of the ball? alot of our play seems to come down the left hand side through kranjcar doesnt it... so are we not using utaka enough?
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03/12/2007 17:06:00


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