Monday, October 27, 2008

Time to rest Bullard? - Portsmouth 1 Fulham 1

For the second game in a row we’ve claimed a point when we’ve maybe not completely deserved to. That could be an encouraging sign that we’ve become difficult to beat, or a worrying sign that we’ve been poor but lucky. I don’t suppose we’ll really know the answer to that for a few more weeks, maybe not until the end of the season.

Hopes were raised prior to the game with the breaking news of Harry Redknapp’s departure from the Pompey hot seat to take on the poisoned chalice at Spurs. Surely if ever a club and a manager deserved each other it’s these two. It's impossible to tell how these sort of things can affect a team. They'd played poorly in Europe on Thursday, and I was hoping we could nick a point even before the management change was announced. In the end it probably all evened out.

My view of the game was limited to brief highlights on Match of the Day 2. It looked like we started brightly but were under the cosh for much of the game before a late revival. The goal conceded came after Jimmy Bullard attempted to dribble through the centre of the Pompey midfield. He ran straight into trouble, was easily dispossessed and remained sitting on the floor as the Blues counter attacked swiftly and scored. Not good. A quick ball had been played through to leave Defoe and Crouch in a face off with Hangeland and Hughes. Defoe dragged Hangeland right before playing a neat ball across the penalty area for Crouch to fire home. Hughes was helpless to react.

Hodgson reacted by first bringing on Dempsey for Gera (who had been playing on the right wing), then gambling on a three man defence by bringing Nevland on for Painstil. It was an uncharacteristic change in system but it paid off. A through ball was nodded down by Nevland (playing wide right) to Andy Johnson, AJ made a quick return pass for Nevland to chase. The Dane Norwegian then fired a perfect cross into the six yard box where Clint, timing his arrival perfectly and completely unmarked, was ready to slot home with a lovely half volley. Nice crisp passing and great movement off the ball, this is exactly what Hodgson wants them to do.

An important first away point and possibly signs that Roy is thinking about changes to the starting line-up. Since I waxed lyrical about Bullard’s chances in the England set-up he’s not been able to put a foot (or a pass) right. Reports suggest he had another poor game and was certainly at fault for the goal we conceded. Time to give him a break I think, even if just for one game, with Wigan on Wednesday night followed by Everton at the weekend, we need to use the squad. Dempsey seems the most likely candidate to fill the gap. I think he usually plays best when he's central, and his reaction to his goal on Sunday indicated a man ready to show his true worth.


chopper said...

Very good stuff from Colin here.

Which provides a more quantative view on the Bullard situation, but arrives at basically the same conclusion.

smfifteen said...

Good stuff Chopper. I agree about JB, but I think the problem lies in the way he's being *allowed* to play - Hodgson must endorse his roaming and sometimes selfish play or he'd surely drop him?
The other possible solution is to stick a strictly defensive player behind him (Andreasson?). This would push him further forward (20 yard pot-shots instead of 30 yard ones?), and also make his wandering less risky.
(P.S. I think Mr. Nevland is Norweigian - 'Erik The Great Dane' would be an odd nickname to carry around!)

Chopper said...

Thanks SM15 - Man! I've got a mental block about Nevland's country of origin. It must be a Viking thing - they were from both right?

I think Roy is accepting a certain ammount of "free play" from Bullard as long as it's tempered. Jimmy's playing in a very different way now to the way he played when Hodgson first arrived.

I'd also like to see Andreasen in the team but the difficulty there is I think that would mean either dropping Murphy (who is our orchestrator) or one of the strikers.