Portsmouth - Chix's Chatter - R U better than Mr Hart?
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Chix's Chatter - R U better than Mr Hart?

So you think you could manage Pompey do ya? Well step up to the plate and tell me what strategy you would use to ensure survival next season
Now, it's no secret that the permanent appointment of Paul Hart as Pompey's full-time manager didn't sit that comfortably with me.

Of course, I'll get behind the bloke and whatever team he puts out 100% but I just hope that this time around he has thought things through and has a planned strategy of how we are going to retain our Premiership status this coming season.

When I think back to the end of last season it wasn't so much his tactics that wound me up
(although I would have deployed a more attacking formation at times), it wasn't even his persistence to omit certain players from his team for no apparent reason (although I would have 'at least' tried Gekas and given Basinas a 'decent' run of games) and although frustrating it wasn't his obvious blindness when it came to not acknowledging poor performers (I'm not even go there, Hayden Mullins!)

I guess my biggest issue with the 2008/09 version of Paul Hart was his relentless pursuit of 'taking each game as it comes' and not looking at the bigger picture.

Why did he do this?

Why did he not look beyond the next match?

Why did he play for three draws when one win would have secured the same number of points and secured safety a lot sooner?

Why did he not see Middelsboro, Hull, West Brom, Newcastle, Blackburn etc. as games we should have attacked from the start?

Well whatever his reasons and whatever the right or wrongs Paul Hart succeeded in keeping Pompey in the Premiership and for that we should all be grateful, however the subject got me thinking.

How will Paul approach the forthcoming season? Or more to the point how would I approach the forthcoming season if I were him?

I have already devised my strategy which I will share with you within the next few days but what I want to know now is ..

What would be your season strategy if you were Paul Hart.?

Would you calculate the number of points you need each game and play for draws?

Would you discount taking any points off of the top four, five, six or seven?

Would you create a mini league of six or eight teams and target points off of the 'lower' clubs as your survival method or ..

Would you just take one game at a time and hope for the best!

Well.. here's your chance to have your say..

Before I publish my strategy (which I'm sure you will consign to the bin) I want to hear how you would approach 2009/10 if you were Paul Hart.

Post your thoughts below, but in true Chix's Chatter style, be prepared to challenged!

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Prediction League
The Journalist

Writer: Chix Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday August 12 2009

Time: 12:23AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Something which was very positive from Hart's matches last season was that, unlike someone, he hoped for a result against the bigger clubs. For instance, playing against Cheslea, showed how strong we could have been if played attacking football but with the intention of not conceding. Sometimes you cannot just plan a season ahead; you need to play according to the situation of your players etc... This season, Hart will still play a 4-5-1 formation, but we should be better off as Freddy is better than Crouch in being up front by himself! I would play the same, take each game at a time before the end of January and hoping to reach 35 points. If by that time the performances would be risking relegation, I would look at home games as mega important. Unless I am fired!
Pompey Malta
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12/08/2009 01:32:00

I'd start by arming Nugent and Wilson with clothes rails and sending them round to beat the Dr until the takoever is finalised and some money has been made available for strengthening the squad with top quality signings.
Steve C
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12/08/2009 06:14:00

Pompey Malta So you think we should plan to get something out of the Big four then.. umm this may have been a positive (some would say stupid) move by Hart but in the three matches he played against the big 4 he lost all three, didn't score and conceded six! It we were to try to amass 35 points before January you'd actually be targetng fifth place for the season and I can't see how we could actually realistically achieve that - I think it would be our best season ever .. with our weakest team.. Also if 35 points was your 'season' target we would more than likely go down. As for Piq being better than Crouch I think we might need more than 90 minutes against a weakened Rangers side to draw that conclusion.. I fear you might be sacked well before Xmas!!
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12/08/2009 07:25:00

SteveC (lol) but although arming Nuge and Wilson with battons would indeed put the fear of god into some opposing teams I fear you'd amass more disciplinary points than anything else and if the money is not available until January rather than the next few weeks I fear you too would be shown the door, irrespective of results.. Nuge & Wilson meanwhile would almost certainly be banged up weakening your squad further ;)
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12/08/2009 07:30:00

..as i always say in these type of discussions.." I know nothing about football, I'm aq Pompey Fan"..lol
plymouth graham
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12/08/2009 08:51:00

Chixy - oh dear!! I'm now going to mount my incredibly high horse here because I can go on for hours. Firstly, my starting 11 and formation would differ greatly from Paul Hart's. Looking at our squad, with the right formation and playing the players to their strengths (i.e. Kranjcar in a 'free' role behind a striker or two) would mean that we would EASILY beat opposition next season. My strategy: bugger the games against United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man U - play the game for the draw there I think. Every home game, I would look to win and would play considered, attacking football ensuring that opposition teams were on the back foot from the off. Away games, I would play for the win obviously. With regards to league tables, I would just look to being mid-table by X-Mas. The Premier league is getting harder year by year to predict, so I reckon that after maybe 5 or so games, you should ask again Chix because I would have a much better idea or what I would be up to.
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12/08/2009 09:05:00

Plymouth Graham You're honesty stands you in good stead. All the greats claim to have a simple philosophy - Why should you be any different .. you are on the right track PG
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12/08/2009 09:27:00

Gino Kranjcar behind the front two.. what front two? ..anyway strategy wise mid-table by Xmas (i.e. half way through) is a good strategy to begin with but then expectation gets the better of people and most will begin to look up rather than over their shoulder (Hull last season!) Still.. I agree the prem is harder to predict this year but as Pompey manager you will need a plan.. Telling me to come back after five or six games ain't gonna cut it .. How would you react if Paul Hart said that to us ?? - I'd prepare your resignation now if I were you .. just in case you need it
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12/08/2009 09:28:00

My tactic will be to beat 8 of the 11 bottom teams at home, pick up 3 extra home draws (27 points at home) and draw with 7 teams away and pick up 1 away win 1-0 (10 points away). The 11 bottom teams we can't lose to at home I pick as being: Birmingham, Blackburn, Bolton, Burnley, Fulham, Hull, Stoke. Sunderland, West Ham, Wigan and Wolves. That's 37 points from the bottom 11 and hopefully a point of two from the top 8. That should keep us up!
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12/08/2009 09:43:00

To continue...if we did drop points against these teams we would have to make up those points against the better 9 teams. In training I would really be focusing on set pieces, as we have been abysmal in recent years at scoring from these, and we really need to do better. I would not focus on the League Cup and simply play the youngsters in this. I would be focusing on quick breaks for away games and long balls for away games, utilizing the speed of Utaka and Freddy. At home I would give Krancjar free rein and really attempt to utilize the marauding runs of Belhadj and Kaboul. In the middle of the field I would focus on our big strong Africans.
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12/08/2009 10:32:00

You're a harsh critic Mr Chix - I have the advantage that I am NOT Paul Hart.....I suppose a better way of putting it would be taking it on a game-by-game basis until such time that the league becomes a series of 'mini-leagues' like it did last year - see which league we fit in and plan around that!!
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12/08/2009 10:41:00

StuartM Are you 'The Special One' in disguise ? I think your strategy is well sound and it even allows you to slip up and re-group. Targeting the teams around us is (I think) the way to go and although this approach differs from mine (to be revealed on Friday) I can see that it is realistic and achievable - Once published I plan to track my strategy as we progress through the season.. it might be worth tracking yours (and some others who I haven't sacked ;) at the same time too
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12/08/2009 11:12:00

Gino I am indeed a harsh critic as I don't believe you can enter the most competitive league in the world without a plan - You'd be doomed to failure! Taking it 'game-by-game' until the mini-leagues develop could be too late .. how would you approach Fulham, Birmingham, Bolton and Wolves? these are all team we play within our first 8 matches.. fail to plan.. plan to fail
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12/08/2009 11:13:00

Any result against the top four is a bonus. I'd play to stifle these teams, hard tackling, man to man marking, because if you try to play free flowing open football they will cut you to ribbons. All home games I would play to win using an attacking 4-5-1, 4-4-2 or 4-3-1-2, depending on the opposition defensive set up. And if at all possible employ the pace of Belhadj and Kaboul from their respective positions. Stoke stayed up last season purely because of their home record, and we must do the same and utilize the 12th man to the full. Regarding the tactical targeting of teams in and around us and of similar squad strength. Yes, it's imperative to maximise the points tally from those you know you're going to mixing it with to survive. Away games I would still play an attacking formation to win. Gung Ho! maybe, but as you've said one win = three draws. My philosophy being, while you're playing higher up the field and attacking the opposition are defending. I've just read this back and thought God! I'm doing a TA and expect to be sacked in a similar period of time. But to be fair to TA, he was incredibly unlucky in games we should have won, and was let down by stupid mistakes in our own half, and definitely our penalty area.
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12/08/2009 11:54:00

Corny Adams So if you assume no 'home' points against the top 4 sides (is that just the top 4?) then also realistically assume we would win one lose one of the other remaining home fixtures (we'd have a total of 24 points .. which would mean we would have to collect 14 points on the road just to survive .. If we use Stoke as the model well they only amassed 10 points on the road last season so we'd have 34 in total for the season and be relegated.. I fear for you job Mr Adams .. whoops sorry Cornypomp !
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12/08/2009 12:36:00

Keep the current squad as it is, try to add a few more quality players although it seems there may be no money for this for a while yet. The big 4 or 5 Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Man City & Possibly Everton are teams to aim for a point against, although it remains to be seen if Man City will actually gel as a team. The rest of the league is beatable and we should go out to win those games especially at home. I like the idea of 3-5-2 James, Finnan (if fit), Kaboul, Distin, Hreidasson, Belhadj at the back. Diop, Kranjcar, Basinas in midfield and Freddie with either Nugent or Utaka up front.
Steve C
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12/08/2009 12:45:00

When it comes to the big four or five there wil obviously be an aura of damage controll but I think a couple of home points is not out of the question at all here. As for the rest I do honestly think we have a good chance of picking up wins at home against all of them. To pull this off though we will need to have the best possible back bone in place. I think the back four we played against Rangers (with herman putting his shifts in as well of course). A trio of Diop, Basinas and Makoena behins a free roaming Niko and to top it off Nuge and Freddie up top to run the defenses ragged. I do honestly think the magic 40 is doable but it all depends on weather the injury fairy reers her ugly head.
Pompey Rego
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12/08/2009 12:55:00

Looks as if Crainie is on his way, reports are claiming he's having a medical at Coventry. He's a player i thought might have forced his way in to contention by now.
Steve C
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12/08/2009 13:04:00

SteveC I'm not too sure I'd play 3-5-2 as it requires three centre backs which we don't really have (although if deployed I'd use Wilson) but hey! If that formation delivers results from your strategy then why not. Not convince that Everton, Villa and Spurs are beatable although the latter is a must in my book! and yep Cranie is on his way ..I guess with Finnan, Kaboul, Wilson and Hurst I reckon we have enough cover at right back
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12/08/2009 13:43:00

PompeyRego 4-3-1-2 eh.. I think that could definately work at home but would need Niko to be on top form all the time .. signs are good though. There's no place for Mullins in your midfield .. why ever not ? and not place for Wilson either .. I think you are all missing a trick on that one. I'm also worried (with Niko having a free role) who is gonna supply the crosses for Fred's 'ead it would be a waste not to utilise it , we saw on Saturday that he can use it .. whould it not be better to go 4-5-1 with Niko and Utaka (or maybe that new Belgium bloke) on the right ?
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12/08/2009 13:43:00

I did include Wilson because I beleive (and correct me if im wrong here) that he did play centre back against Rangers. This may be wrong though as I wasnt there and am only going off of lines ups off of t'internet. As for the crosses I'm hoping they'll come from Mr Kaboul and Nadir (or Herman) as they love to bomb forward when they get the chance. This is why I have gone for the 4-3-1-2. This way either Diop or the axe can act as a bit of cover. As for choosing Basinas over mullins, Although Mullins works hard I beleive Basinas has the vision and the brain to be able to put in some nice defence spliting passes for Nuge and Fred to run on to. from what I saw of him last season he can do this. With 2 work horses along side him as well I think personally it could be a winner. I know there was a poll a while back about where Kaboul should play and how it came out centre back but I voted for right back. If I was the opposing left back I dont think I'd like him charging at me. It would probably be like a 'bull' coming at you;)
Pompey Rego
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12/08/2009 15:07:00

I considered Wilson but i'm far from convinced that he's up to the job, i have high hopes for his future but think he needs to get out on loan and gain some experience.
Steve C
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12/08/2009 15:39:00

My 3-5-2 would obviously need Finnan and Belhadj to supply the crosses. Distin, Kaboul and Herman are all supposed to be centre backs, Herman started as a centreback and was then moved to left back later in his career. It wouldn't be without risk as we'd than only have "the new Legend" Linvoy for cover in the centre.
Steve C
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12/08/2009 15:45:00

PompeyRego Wilson did indeed play Centre Back against Rangers and looked pretty assured in my opinion. Crosses could be supplied by Kaboul for sure and Belhadj when he plays with somebody in front of him and can overlap and cross .. he just seems more affective when running onto the ball rather than picking it up from a standing start. Basinas v Mullins is going to be a debate that rages all season I reckon but I think Mullins will get the nod more often that not. I'm not saying he's a better player (he's not!) but I think Hart feels that Basinas can not last the pace and is in someways a luxury we can't afford .. still we'll see. As for Nuge and Fred I'm not sure and although I know nobody has come in for Nuge yet I still expect him to get shipped out as soon as we get another striker in, but the thing I like most about your formation is the image of Kaboul tearing up the right wing.. a bit of a Glen Johnson eh.. would be good if we didn't miss him wouldn't it!
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12/08/2009 15:47:00

SteveC erm.. So let's say Distin does go to Man City and Wilson goes on loan (not that I think that is wise .. he is more than ready in my opinion) what then ? Kaboul, Hermann & Linvoy with no cover.. they would get roasted .. imagine Santa Cruz. Tevez, Robinho and Adebayor advancing on those three .. we'd probably lose 6-0 ! .. As you say ..it's a risky tactic Steve
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12/08/2009 15:51:00

Thanks for this article, it's made me think a bit more about what we have available and i've come to the conclusion that whilst things are far from ideal, we're not as badly off as i believed. That said any more departures would seriously compromise our position unless they resulted in top quality signings to replace them.
Steve C
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12/08/2009 15:54:00

SteveC You're welcome mate.. All I do is publish what's in my head and it generally matches with what the rest of the Pompey fan community have in theirs (lol). I've been saying for months that although we will be very thin on the ground (down to the bare bones in fact) we do have enough quality to survive if the plan is the right one and we play to our strengths .. Sure we have a number of creaking limbs and an over reliance on James, Distin, Kranjcar and (now) Fred .. (although I'm convinced there's a surprize to come in that department .. hopefully not Viduka !) .. and sure we are gonna have a tough season but 38 points is not that hard to amass out of the 144 on offer ! It is exactly 33% or one third if you like and that means a draw every game or one win in three game or lose all away games and lose at home to the top six and just win the rest .. It isn't hard to develop a strategy.. I just wonder what Paul Harts will be ..
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12/08/2009 16:20:00

Regarding Freddy, I think he is better than Crouch because he can offer more; he can run at least! So playing him by himself is not that impossibel, so I think, that his arrival will suit us very well, since we haven't got many people to cross this season. Getting near the 35 point target by the end of january is not impossible, Hull nearly done that last season. Against the big four, we didn't score because: Chelsea - Cech was at his best. Man. Utd - we were outclassed (ok). Arsenal - we missed too many chances. I think, that we should respect ourselves and play for our pride each and every game, and not lose before we hit the field.
Pompey Malta
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12/08/2009 16:26:00

Pompey Malta As you know I was not a lover of Crouchy either especially up front on his own but (personally) I'd guard about raving about Freddy just yet.. yep he did score twice on Saturday but that was against a weakened Rangers side on a par with .. shall we say .. Burnley or one of the other promoted teams (I might be being unfair there) I dunno I really hope you are right but he is hardly a proven 'out and out' goalscorer whereas Crouch was/is ..still time will tell.. As for 35 points before the end of January if we do that in 24 games I'd be over the moon .. but it's 'roughly' win one draw one lose one.. and as a model that would would see us finish 10th .. I think that is a tall order tbh given the squad we have but as you said Hull nearly did that last season so it can be done.. but can it be sustained. as for points of the big four yeah I think it is possible but my earlier point was that only a fool would plan to get them Paul Hart didn't go out to lose I'm sure not matter how 'unlucky' he was the fact is that in the three matches he played against the big 4 he lost all three, didn't score and conceded six! What's to say we will do any better with a weaker team .. still it's all about opinions and we only have a few days before it all kicks off .. then we'll see .. but if we manage to beat Arsenal in their own back yard .. the drinks are on me !
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12/08/2009 16:52:00

I'd love to offer a considered opinion on this, but I can't - except to say that we should always play to win at home. Which doesn't mean not defending properly. The main thought that this thread has given me is that it isn't as easy as it looks, is it - football management.
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12/08/2009 18:45:00

According to the news Peter Storrie has reitterated that Distin is going nowhere. We've also apparently won the bhaseera appeal so that'll give us more options as well.
Steve C
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12/08/2009 19:57:00

Tracy You're right, it's not is it and no matter how you plan it out a poor performance or a quirky referring decision can blow your plans apart !
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12/08/2009 20:49:00

SteveC If right about Bhasera that's great news.. although I don't think he'll make the first team to start with it's another one for the squad.. and with Distin staying (will he be Captain) things are begining to look up !
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12/08/2009 20:51:00

Chix, good point there. I believe that this season we manage to pull off a surprise win against the big four, and I am assuming it would be Liverpool at Fratton! No one would plan to win against the top four, but if the manager motivate his players that a result can be achieved, it can happen! I think that Hart, has some motivation skills, remember, he managed to save Pompey from last year's disaster. About Freddy, I am sure he is going to be a hit this year.
Pompey Malta
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12/08/2009 23:31:00

Malta Let's hope you are right .. Freddy to score a hattrick against Liverpool at Fratton.. now wouldn't that be good.. time for bed soon but somehow I just know what I'll be dreaming about !
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13/08/2009 00:24:00


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