Praise For Hart

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 21 October 2009
It's not very often that Paul Hart comes in for praise from Pompey fans but I feel he deserves some credit.

Yes, we've lost 8 out of our 9 Premier League games (of which the first four we had a team of disillusioned players and a threadbare squad) and Hart can be left wanting tactically when it comes to substitutions but I do believe things could be worse.

He has done a good job in rebuilding a team that barely had any players left when the transfer window was nearing its close (thanks, Sulaiman) and his signings have shown some promise.

OK, so Aaron Mokoena hasn't been great and none of our new strikers are yet to score a goal but there have been signs that we have the making of a good team.

Tommy Smith is one individual that has surprised me a little. I was expecting him to be a player who gives his all but is ultimately not good enough for the cause but he has shown his quality, especially when Pompey are counter-attacking and I think it will only be a matter of time before he finds the back of the net.

The same can be said for Aruna Dindane who may have had a horror show against Tottenham but his all-round game for a forward is good and once he fully regains his fitness and match practice then I think he'll start scoring too.

Frederic Piquionne and Danny Webber are yet to live up to expectation (if there was any in the first place) but I've particularly been impressed with two of Hart's midfield signings from Tottenham Hotspur.

Jamie O'Hara has given energy to the midfield, knows how to pass the ball and has a good free kick technique whilst I've been very surprised at how influential Kevin-Prince Boateng has been since joining the club, his all-round quality and eye for goal has made him an early runner for our player of the season already!

However, the jury is still out on some of his signings. Replacing Glen Johnson was always going to be difficult but Steve Finnan has been solid in his last two outings for Pompey whilst Anthony Vanden Borre is still improving, even though he now finds himself out of the side.

Question marks also remain above the heads of Tal Ben-Haim, Michael Brown and Hassan Yebda whose performances have been mixed so far and I do wonder when we'll see Mike Williamson make his debut.

But what I like most about this team is that they give everything they have for the cause and as a result we have been competetive in every game we have played since August.

There's a likeability about the togetherness of this team too. We might have enjoyed the last couple of years with some of the players we have had but you can tell playing for Portsmouth means more to Boateng and Smith than it ever did for mercenaries like Kranjcar and Defoe.

You can also see why the likes of Edgar Davids and Amr Zaki aren't wanted by Hart because the team spirit almost makes up for the lack of quality throughout the side, and a character such as Zaki could threaten to destroy that no matter how good he may be.

This togetherness of the current Pompey squad has produced good performances which has maintained my belief that we can survive this season.

It's almost like the connection is back between the fans and the players who you could really feel for when they expressed how gutted they were after the defeats to Everton and Tottenham, yet they were quick to share the elation with the travelling support at Molineux when that first victory was achieved against Wolves.

That's what I like most about this team, but the bottom line is that it cannot afford to lose many more games and must certainly not lose to Hull on Saturday which is simply a massive match.

As much as I praise Paul Hart for building a competitive team within days without spending any real money I do fear for his job if we were to be beaten by the Tigers this weekend, as the gap between the teams would be a whopping 10 points and I'm convinced that Hull will go down after watching them go down to Fulham without a fight on Monday.

Whatever happens, Hart can walk away with his dignity in tact once he leaves Fratton Park because he kept us up last season when it looked like we were going down and he has maintained a level of respectability despite everything going on around him since this summer began.

Portsmouth Match Reports

Sky Bet League One Sat 21st October 15:00

Blackburn Rovers 3 - 0 Portsmouth

Last game - Match Centre


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