A Difference Of Opinion?

I'll admit before you even read the article that this is a "filler" piece as there is absolutely nothing going on at Pompey at the moment, though the club are expected to come out of administration this week.

So this article is about those players at Pompey who have enhanced their reputations amongst the Fratton faithful this season. Many players such as Benjani, Marc Wilson and Aaron Mokoena have turned the opinions of Blues supporters in their favour in the past and this season is seeing opinions of other players who have been here for a fair amount of time by an average Pompey player's standards.

Of course, this may well be because Pompey are no longer in the top flight and have "found their level" and not everyone will have been won over but life in the Championship has proved to be a tonic for the following men.

Hayden Mullins

Mullins was instantly stuck with "boo boy" tag from the moment he was signed in January 2009 to replace an international footballer sold to the biggest club on the planet for around £20 million.

Whenever his name was read on the team sheet before the match you would always hear a droll groan come from the fans and it wouldn't be long before he was taking abuse from the crowd as he gave the ball away (again).

However, Mullins began to win the fans over with an outstanding performance against Tottenham playing as a full back but is now performing consistently in his usual midfield role. I'd go as far to say that he has arguably been our best player since returning to midfield.

He goes about his business quietly but isn't afraid to stick his foot in either which is something the fans always appreciate. He has worked well with Michael Brown in the centre of the park and long may it continue.

David Nugent

I wasn't far from writing off Nugent as a Pompey failure and one that would be consigned to history as one of our worst ever signings. Apart from a very brief spell of form under Tony Adams, Dave had failed to reproduce the performances that made Harry Redknapp shell out the best part of £6 million to take him from Preston.

I wasn't convinced that Nuge at the start of this campaign either but suddenly he has come good and is beginning to win over the fans who don't chant his name for simply chasing a defender down and making him rush his clearance.

Perhaps I am jumping the gun a little but now the former Burnley loanee is playing in his favoured position and with a strike partner who can work well with him. He seems settled and now looks like a genuine threat to any defence in the Championship.

He is still a long way off from repaying his huge fee and we may well lose him for nothing in the summer but I'm sure that he'll leave Fratton Park having made a good contribution to the cause.

John Utaka

Peter Crouch aside, Utaka is Pompey's record signing having come from Rennes for approximately £8 million. In almost 100 appearance for the Blues he has scored a measly 11 goals yet the frustration from Pompey fans has come from his lack of application and effort.

When Steve Cotterill claimed that he would get the best out of the Nigerian I thought it was simply another manager making an empty pledge but it seems like the current Pompey manager may have succeeded where his predecessors have failed.

Out on the left wing, Utaka has become a dangerous player and is beginning to show why he was such an expensive buy three years ago. Of course, the cynics will say that he is playing well so he can earn a move away in January and that may be the case.

Still, to see such a forward thinking player track back and make tackles represents something of a transformation and in the space of two months the 28-year-old has gone from being booed off at Coventry to being given a standing ovation when coming off against Bristol City.

Like Nugent, I doubt Utaka will ever repay his fee and he may still be viewed by Pompey fans as one of the most disappointing players to have ever worn the shirt. But his recent upturn in form has highlighted just how fickle football fans can be, and I hate to say it but Pompey fans are some of the most fickle around, so there may be hope for Utaka yet.

That should mean that there's also hope that two of Pompey's latest "boo boys" in Carl Dickinson and Ibrahima Sonko can also win the fans over.

Both have had poor starts to their Pompey careers but "Dicko" is showing signs of settling in and a player that was at the heart of the defence of such a good Reading team in 2006 surely can't be that bad?