Pompey talk with Pete Alexander/pedalo
Pete Alexander/pedalo was asked 6 questions about the 2008/09 season and what the hopes are for the 2009/10, one and indeed our future, is.
This is what they said...
"Milan at home" says it all for me. Huge privilege, huge game, incredible atmosphere, incredible first 84 minutes, typical ending.
Obviously, on the outset, it's great news for the club. Everything you hear about Al Fahim sounds encouraging - his commitment, his passion, his love for the limelight: all things which should help put Pompey on the map. More important than 'Galactico's', for me, are the infrastructure issues. We have, let's be honest, been a Championship club playing in the Premiership ever since we came up. How we've managed to attract some of the players we have done with the facilities we have in place is a testament to Storrie and Harry, really. So, first things first: build those new state-of-the-art training facilities we've been talking about for years, beef up the (now promising) academy and get the ground plans underway. If that means modernising Fratton at first, then building from scratch in a couple of years, fine by me. As long as we actually get the process going, I'm happy. Once the setup is improved, convincing a better class of player to join the Pompey Revolution will be a walk in the park.
As I said, I don't particularly think it's this summer we should be focusing on. Still, with 17 players out of contract, it's clear that there are going to be some comings and goings. First things first - secure the players we need to keep in order to progress. That means Crouch, Distin and Kranjcar, for me. As far as the out of contract players go, Campbell's wages are obviously going to cause a problem, but I really think we should offer Sean Davis a good deal. He makes such a difference in the middle when he's fit, and is a strong character to have around. The King will hopefully sign another one year deal too - another great guy in the dressing room. Johnson, arguably our best player by a country mile, looks like he might well be packing his bags. It would be a real shame to see him go, but he is good enough to play Champs League, and if someone dangles £15m+ in our faces, it's going to be difficult to not offer him the chance, no matter how much money we've got in the pipeline. Still, hopefully we can convince him to stay another year at least, and he can see first hand the progress that we intend to make. And, to be honest, it looks as though Kaboul is going to fancy converting to full back if Johnno does go, so not all bad news.
So, to answer the question(!), I think we need:
- An up-and-coming keeper who can take over from Jamo: Yohann Pele of Le Mans has been touted and sounds like an excellent prospect - recently been called up to the French squad too
- A couple of centre halves: I think a proven Premiership defender is key, so perhaps have a look at Hangeland or Gary Cahill or even Kolo Toure at a push, and maybe revisit an old target in John Mensah who ended up going to Lyon last year but has had an indifferent season, managing only 11 appearances due to injuries - class act though.
- A left back: Belhadj can obviously do a job, but he's got the Matty Taylor disease - not necessarily a winger, but he sure as hell ain't a defender. There's some chat around Paul Robinson - decent player, but I think we can do better. I've heard good things about Taye Taiwo, the Marseille left back. Nigerian international, plenty of pace and power, likes to get forward and has a powerful shot on him.
- A creative (preferably goalscoring) central midfielder to supplement Kranjcar's class and Davis' mettle: Gelson Fernandes has been mentioned, but I see him as a Davis replacement rather than an addition. Steve Sidwell wasn't a fixture in Villa's first XI last year - he's always impressed me and could be a good shout if they do sign an additional Barry replacement. Other than that, nobody in the Prem (who would be available at a decent price) really jumps out at me - maybe the inconsistent Jermaine Jenas but not much else, so it might mean looking to Europe for a Muntari clone.
- Wingers: last season we looked strong down the left for a period, with both Belhadj and Traore bombing down the flanks. I'd like to see another deal done for the latter, but also wouldn't be against looking at Downing or Adam Johnson at Boro. At the same time, I thought Pennant looked good when he was fit and would love to see us sign him permanently, and I still believe that Spurs' Giovanni could come good if he was given a run of games in the Prem. You don't go from hat-trick at Barca to Ipswich reserves overnight without some bad conditioning along the way.
- Strikers: Crouch had a tough time (albeit a decent season) on his own up front last year - he definitely needs some support aside Nugent. One option is obviously to play Utaka up alongside him, and I think it could be a good partnership. But they do say that you need four top-class strikers in order to be a success in this league, and so there are a number of players I think we could target. Javier Saviola is one we should take another look at - there was a period when Barca originally signed him when he was going to be the 'next big thing' but he never really fulfilled his potential. Nevertheless, a skilful, intelligent, nippy striker who could also prove a decent foil for the big man. Plus, I've already written a chant for him -
Also worth thinking about Sanli Tuncay, by far Boro's best player, Oba Martins, power, pace, bang, and Marc-Antoine Fortune who, although not a household name, bagged an impressive return in 2009 within a struggling Baggies side.
Jamie Ashdown - nothing against him, but he's got no future at Pompey with the rise of Begovic. Let him go and play some first team football somewhere. Oh, and Djimi of course. The worst signing in a long time.
Honestly, I'm hoping for a stable, mid-table season. Maybe a flirtation with the European positions at some point, maybe a Cheap Fizzy Lager Cup run. But stability is the key for me. Establish a firm base, set some achievable targets and take it from there. The worst thing that could happen would be to sign two overpriced wannabe Galactico's, announce that we're going to challenge the top four and then sack whichever high profile manager we bring in for not doing so. One season of progressive building, at least, please.
Well, I've given up my season ticket in order to play more footy this year. I'm living in London at the moment and running a team, so need to show my commitment to that, really. It wasn't quite there last year and I felt bad about it. Not only that, but my FanZone commitments are obviously a factor. Hint, hint, Sky. I'll still make a handful of games and hopefully get to a few away trips as well. Looking forward to it, anyway. Play Up Pompey!
Thanks to Pete Alexander/pedalo for answering these.
PLAY UP POMPEY!
If anyone else wants to answer the questions simply drop me an email as a request, or send your answers to be direct at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make it happen.
Here are the others so far:
pompeyrug ... sneakay