Player Rankings

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 28 November 2007
Now that we're over a third of the way through the season, it's time to assess how much the Pompey players have contributed during the campaign by listing them from least valuable, to most valuable.

Players that have featured in less than seven games this season haven't been included as it would be too unfair. So there's no place on this list for Jamie Ashdown, Linvoy Primus, Richard Duffy, Lauren, Martin Cranie, Djimi Traore, Richard Hughes and Arnold Mvuemba.

Here's the list then, from bottom to top.

#16: David Nugent

The obvious choice here as for a record signing for a striker, Nugent hasn't lived up to the hype he brought with him to Fratton Park. In his defence, his chances have been limited and he his lack of goals isn't for the lack of trying.

However, his misses from close range have cost us and he is yet to prove that he can score at the highest level. He will probably get his chance in January as his "move" to Derby is probably off now that Billy Davies has gone.

#15: Pedro Mendes

At the start of the season, I would have said that Mendes would be our first choice midfielder alongside Sulley Muntari. That has not been the case and Mendes has been limited to sitting on the bench and hasn't shown his best form in ages.

I wouldn't want Pedro to leave the club as I still feel he has plenty to offer, but I think he could move on in January and make an impact at another club like he did for us.

#14: Matthew Taylor

Another player who was part of the first-team furniture last season but now can't get into the side. When Taylor has been on the pitch, he's performed quite well and made a difference against United when he produced the cross for Benjani's equaliser.

But Niko is keeping Matty out of the side at the moment, and we're yet to see his trademark thunderbolts from long range. Harry has assured him that he will get his chance but will he still be here by then?

#13: John Utaka

According to some sources, Utaka is our record signing at £8.1 million and although in the first few games he showed why he was worth that amount of money, since then he has failed to live up to the hype.

Perhaps I'm being a bit unfair on the lad as he has made his contributions and does show real promise, but he has gone missing in some games and seems to be unsure of his best position yet.

He still possesses the qualities to become a lethal player in this league, but it just might take time.

#12: Sulley Muntari

If Utaka isn't our record signing, then Muntari is and like the Nigerian, the Ghana midfielder has shown signs of brilliance (like his dominant performance at Chelsea) but also has been inconsistent this season.

Muntari's passing needs to improve if he is going to be worth the £7 million we paid for him, and he needs to improve his discipline too as it didn't take him long to see red after getting sent off for a needless tackle against Man United.

Still, my opinion of Muntari is similar to that of Niko Kranjcar's last season; "Has the attributes but needs to adjust his game to the pace of the Premiership". Hopefully Muntari will realise his true potential in time.

#11: Hermann Hriedarsson

Hermann's signing was met with a degree of scepticism in the summer but he has fared pretty well in his Pompey career so far, so much so that he forced Stefanovic to move clubs as it was clear that Hermann is the better player.

The Iceland international has been steady at left back and has also managed to grab a couple of goals this season too. His longevity will be questioned though as at 33-years-old, he won't last too much longer at the top level.

#10: Noe Pamarot

Since his return to the Pompey defence, Noe has managed to keep his place due to his excellent performances at left back that have been arguably better than Hriedarsson's.

Like Hermann, Noe can also play as centre back (and right back), has scored goals this season but also has some pace about him. I think Pamarot is our most under-valued player because he is so versatile and that he is an under-rated defender. If he could iron out the occasional critical mistakes he makes, he could be even better.

#9: David James

It's a sign of how quickly our team has improved when you see Pompey's player of the 2006/2007 season down in 9th place in the list. That's not to say Jamo has got worse, but he hasn't shown the form that did last season.

Then again, he hasn't needed to as the defence has improved and James hasn't had much to do in recent games. Unfortunately, he has made a few errors when letting Anelka's and Lampard's shots under him as well as that terrible mistake against Reading.

However, since the Reading game he has been excellent when called upon and we're fortunate to have a 'keeper of his calibre in goal for us.

#8: Kanu

After a long and drawn out "will he, won't he?" saga, Kanu finally agreed to stay at Pompey and that decision has really benefited us.

The Nigerian has proved to be even trickier to play against this season and has scored a few crucial goals, with the most important one being at Blackburn when he showed incredible strength to score. The nature of his play fits in well with the new physical style of the team and his presence cannot be under-valued.

#7: Sol Campbell

Sol has barely put a foot wrong since joining Pompey and has deservedly earned his place in the England team. He has shown some outstanding form this season and it's hard to criticise him.

The only gripe I have with Campbell is that he's been rather injury-prone this season and we've missed his top class defending and his leadership when we've really needed it.

#6: Glen Johnson

When Glen Johnson signed for Pompey, there were many groans amongst fans as he hadn't covered himself with glory during the second half of his loan spell at Pompey. However, since his inclusion in the side, he's been back to his best.

Sure, he may lack his defensive qualities at times but in the last few games, especially away from home, he's found solidarity to his game and wingers are finding it hard to pass him now.

He also offers a strong attacking threat from right back, and can create opportunities for other players with his runs. This does mean that we get exposed occasionally down our right, but I think we've all been pleasantly surprised by how well Glen is playing this season.

#5: Papa Bouba Diop

So, who else is eating humble pie then? When Gary O'Neil was sold to Middlesbrough and Diop was brought in, the Pompey fans were fervent in their response as the Senegalese midfielder was seen as "past it" after a poor season at Fulham.

However, like Kanu last season, Papa Bouba Diop has proved us all wrong and this signing looks like it's a masterstroke by Redknapp. Diop fits into our system perfectly, and when he has the ball it's very, very difficult to take it from him.

Diop's a pretty good footballer too, and I think he could well be missed the most come January and the African Nations Cup. Papa does give the ball away a bit too often though, so his passing must improve.

#4: Niko Kranjcar

The Croatian has been a revelation this season following a sombre first season at the club. Niko is the most technically gifted player at the club and now he's at peak fitness and adjusted to the pace of the Premier League, he is a dangerous player when he has the ball.

One of Kranjcar's best assets is his set pieces. We all saw what he can do from a free kick last Saturday, and his delivery from corners is generally good. He can pick a pass, has two good feet and has an eye for goal too, meaning he can play anywhere across the midfield and still be a threat.

My only criticism of him is that he doesn't do enough at the back but then he doesn't really need to when we already have an array of defensive minded players at the club. Even then, I've still seen him get stuck in a few times.

#3: Sean Davis

Davis' future at Pompey was in the balance with all the midfielders were bought in the summer, yet he has managed to keep his place in the side from day one and is proven to be one of our most valuable players.

Tony Adams summed it up best the other day when he said "Sean offers the defence great protection". He does the dirty work very well, breaking up play and then giving the ball to a team mate.

Davis has also had a hand in a few of our goals this season, although the one he "scored" against Reading went to Ingimarsson as an own goal. Still, Sean has been improbably one of our most important players this season.

#2: Benjani

If someone said to you that Benjani would be the league's top scorer after 14 games, they would have carted you off to a mental institute. However, the man from Zimbabwe has found a goalscoring touch and when you add that to his pace and work rate, you have an outstanding player.

It's not just an attacking threat that Benji offers the team either. He's also handy when it comes to defending from the front and blocking opposition set pieces. There's only that penalty miss against West Ham that blots his record this season.

#1: Sylvain Distin

Those of you who are regular readers of the site will have probably seen this coming, but in my opinion there has been one player who has been a class above everyone else this season and he is Sylvain Distin.

I've already sung his praises this season because of his consistency, his ability and his mentality. One move in the Birmingham game sums up how good Distin is if memory serves me correctly.

Kapo is through on goal and looks certain to score, Distin chases back, wins the ball and keeps cool enough to round the Birmingham player and pass it to a team mate.

The man is sheer class and could get into the squad of any team in the Premier League. How Man City let him go for nothing is baffling...

So that's the list as it stands. I will re-visit this later in the season and see how players have improved, or worsened as the case may be. It was harder than I thought to make this list, as it's hard to criticise a team sitting 6th in the league.

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