Playing For Keeps
Who should stay at Pompey next season?
With the season nearing its inevitable conclusion of relegation to League Two, there are still reasons for the Pompey players to play out of their skins with the possibility of wearing the royal blue next season.
With Guy Whittingham likely to be confirmed as Pompey's permanent manager in the very near future, he will need to run the rule over the players in his squad that he'll want to keep next season - if they want to stay at Fratton Park, of course.
For now, here is my assessment of each of the Portsmouth players and if they should be kept for next season.
Simon Eastwood: Had this article been written before January I would have said "get rid" but he has proved himself to be a very good shot stopper in recent months and his handling has also improved drastically. He still makes mistakes, as evident in the Brentford game, but all keepers are liable to be error prone in League Two and so it's doubtful there'll be any better options anyway. Verdict: Keep
Phil Smith: We haven't seen him play and in all honesty he cannot be that great if he can't get in the team ahead of Eastwood. Whittingham may as well promote a young goalkeeper from the youth team next season to give them a taste of what's to come. Verdict: Release
Shaun Cooper: He has been impressive in recent weeks and knows League Two very well having played there for Bournemouth. His versatility should be an asset to what is likely to be a small squad next season. Verdict: Keep
Sam Sodje: His time at Pompey has been inconsistent. At times he can be a tower of strength but other times he'll flounder and make costly mistakes. It's likely that Whittingham will want to promote youth rather than rely on Sodje's ageing legs so he'll find first-team football hard to come by. Verdict: Release
Yassin Moutaouakil: Another inconsistent player who looks brilliant in one game and a liability the next. He is an asset when players are going forward but his passing is poor and he is beaten too often. I think we could do better. Verdict: Release
Gabor Gyepes: Quietly goes about his business in the centre of defence and of all the players that Portsmouth has in its squad, Gabor is the most likely to leave but one of the most important to keep due to his dominance in the air and occassional goal threat. Verdict: Keep - if possible.
Adam Webster: Has made fleeting appearances this season but has looked solid for the most part, if unspectacular. Guy has hinted that Adam may play a bigger role in the team next season so he should be given the chance to hold down a place in the starting eleven. Verdict: Keep
Ricardo Rocha: Despite the fact he'll turn 35 in October, Rocha is the epitome of calm defending and despite his lack of pace his quality will shine through at League Two level if he decides to stay. Verdict: Keep
Dan Butler: Reports of the youngster being linked to the likes of Manchester City are probably fabricated but you can see there is potential for Dan to become a very good left back. He's fairly quick, can tackle and always works hard. He still has much improvement to make but it's essential that he continues to develop at Portsmouth. Verdict: Keep
Liam Walker: Occasionally a tad lax and not the most physically imposing player in the world either but I still believe that Liam is the best passer of a football that Pompey has. Hopefully he will play a more central role next season as he'll be more effective there than on the flanks. Verdict: Keep
Johnny Ertl: League Two is bound to be a scrap and so who better to have in your side than the big Austrian. Johnny as established himself as a fans' favourite because of the way he has bossed the midfield in recent games. Hopefully he will be the heartbeat of our team next season. Verdict: Keep
Therry Racon: He has pedigree in the lower leagues but I'm not entirely sure what his role is supposed to be. He has performed well as a combative midfielder but I feel that there is more to his game which has been restricted. If we see the best of him, he could be brilliant in League Two. Verdict: Keep - if a defining role can be found for him.
Jack Maloney: We've only seen glimpses of him but he looks like he could be a tricky winger. Whittingham will want to keep him and watch him improve further. Verdict: Keep
Jed Wallace: Clearly has a bright future due to his goalscoring ability, his passing range and his energy to get from box to box. Jed is out of contract in June and simply must be kept hold of to signal the club's intent next season. Verdict: Must do everything to keep.
David Connolly: I must admit I was underwhelmed when Connolly signed for us but he has more than surpassed my expectations. He's clever, knows how to finish and his fitness defies his 35-year-old legs. He'll be 36 by the start of next season but t would be foolish to let a striker of his calibre go. Verdict: Keep
John Akinde: To be brutally honest, Akinde hasn't shown anything to suggest he deserves to stay at Pompey long term. Despite his build, he fails to impose himself on the game, lacks techincal ability and although quick his first touch lets him down too often. Verdict: Release
Ashley Harris: This is a difficult one. He scored a couple of goals during his early cameos in the season and looked like he might progress but he hasn't done that. He runs about a lot but currently there is nothing to suggest he will become a good player, even at League Two level. Verdict: Keep for another season to see how he progresses.
Patrick Agyemang: The big striker has made a huge impact on Pompey and how the team plays. Given the physicality of League Two, it is essential to have a strong forward capable of leading the line. Hopefully he'll stay on next season. Verdict: Keep
So, there we go. It's a testament to how well the current crop of players have done that only three of the players are deemed not good enough in my opinion. I'm sure Guy Whittingham will have a different view but here's hoping he has the budget to keep the majority of this team together and maybe add a few faces too.
If he can, League Two might well be enjoyable next season.
Source: Fratton Faithful
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