Left Back Liabilities

Last updated : 19 April 2007 By Jim Bonner
David James, Sol Campbell and Linvoy Primus have all been rock solid at the back and arguably have outperformed the rest of the team all season. Lauren is now finding his fitness and form and we're beginning to see the best of him now, though Glen Johnson did well during the start of the campaign.

That's four of the back five that has excelled for the majority of the season, but the same could not be said for the left back position.

We've had many players try and fill the role this season, with some degree of success but opposition teams have often best found their joy down our left side with a lack of a quality left-footed full back and the stand-ins being somewhat of a liability.

This has recently been highlighted by the goals we've conceded, with Dejan making a clumsy tackle to gift Newcastle a penalty and Traore making an even clumsier challenge at Watford to gift the Hornets a way back into the match which they took.

The truth is that we've not had a comfortable left back all season, and arguably since our promotion to the Premiership with the likes of Zivkovic, Unsworth, Vignal and Griffin all trying their hand at patrolling the left back position but ultimately failing for one reason or another.

Dejan Stefanovic is predominantly a centre back and it shows as he has looked shaky out on the left. As much as I like the bloke I'm not convinced he can cut it at left back at the consistent high standards Campbell, Primus and Lauren are setting. The thing that worries me is that he's the club captain and a Redknapp favourite so will always have a route into the team, no matter if there are better players available.

Harry signed Djimi Traore in January but I've not seen anything of him to suggest he is the same quality of our other first team defenders. He's athletic and pretty quick but I've noticed he's often caught out of position and his clumsy challenges gift the opposition opportunities to get a goal.

The only other players who we could play at left back are Matthew Taylor; who although has defensive qualities in his game, isn't good enough to be a top quality left back in my opinion. More importantly, he has excelled in a more attacking role this season and we'd miss his ability to overlap with defenders and score screamers from stupid distances.

Noe Pamarot is the only other option we have and although he had a decent spell at left back earlier in the season, he is also supposed to be a centre back and he isn't even left footed! He should be nothing more than an emergency left back should needs must as pacy wingers will be able to get the better of him, just ask Arjen Robben.

So if we want to improve the left back position in the summer, something I believe we must do, who do we get? The following suggestion may be harmful to the eyes of Pompey fans and I'm sure I'll get ripped apart for coming up with this idea, but why don't we try and get Wayne Bridge on loan from Chelsea?

Yes, I know he used to play for them and wound up all of the Pompey fans with his "ear cup" celebration at Stamford Bridge a few years ago but there's no questioning that he's a high quality left back that won't get much first team action because he's behind Ashley Cole in the Chelsea pecking order. We have a good relationship with Chelsea and if it meant improving the team then I'd be all for having him at Fratton Park. He's probably the best proven Premiership left back that could well be available in the summer.

In truth I can't see Harry signing another left back once this season has ended because Captain Stefanovic is guaranteed a place in the side and he rates Traore highly despite his obvious shortcomings. There are also more important positions to strengthen before our defence, ultimately our strikers and the lack of wingers at the club is a problem that needs addressing.

However if we don't invest in a quality left back come the summer, those of you sitting in the Southern Enclosure or near the Fratton End in the North Stand will be getting better value for money than the others as I'd expect the ball to be there more often than anywhere else when we're being attacked next season.