Four to the floor

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It’s been a busy old couple of weeks in the Jewell household, flights to Norway and Turkey have been booked (if stories are to believed) and players have been winging their way in from all over the shop. After a whole lot of rumour, conjecture and, to be honest, what seems like a fair bit of faffing about we have finally managed to bring in a few players that we’ve heard of before and for the first time, that I can remember, we’re involved in that modern day football essential, the work permit application.

Now woe betide that I pre judge anyone, but the signings we’ve made over the last seven days or so have brought with them a fair few questions, that only they can answer, on and around the football pitch. Then again, in this day and age, is it at all possible for a player to move between two clubs without a certain amount of scandal, recrimination and all round bitterness? Whether it is the fans, players or clubs involved someone always seems to expect some level of loyalty that for most people involved in football doesn’t exist any more.

The Camera Never Lies
Three relegations in three seasons, helped Celtic chuck away a league title that they were all set to walk away with. A greedy player who runs at the first set of trouble; flatters to deceive and then takes the knock when things don’t go his way. The story isn’t exactly the same but as with Jason Roberts before him, there are two sides to Henri Camara’s story.

Listen to the fans that are happy to laugh at us for paying 3 million for the lad and it’s not hard to pick on a certain amount of regret. If only they could have been the team for him, convinced him to stay, commit himself to their First Division campaign. According to soccerbase.com, Camara’s goal scoring record across the last 3 seasons (and four clubs) is 1 in 3 games, a reasonable record itself in these days of ‘forwards’ rather than ‘strikers’, but take into account that 3 of those four clubs were struggling to stay in their division, the record is even more remarkable.

Admittedly the majority of those goals came in a season and a half spent in France (Sedan) and then Scotland (Celtic) but they were still goals. Is he going to get us 20 odd goals next season? Probably not. Is he guaranteed a starting place up front? Maybe not. If he replicates his scoring record for wolves (8 in 20 odd starts) will we be able to stay up? Hopefully.

Going Underground

jam In days of yore, miners used to take a canary down t’pit with them to detect pockets of poisonous gas. If any was accounted, the bird would pop its clogs well before the pitmon even suspected anything was up, and off he’d scarper.

Switch to the modern day and, if the tales are true, Paul Jewell has popped out and bought himself a canary that buggers off at the first sight of trouble, I guess that’s what you call progress, eh? Naaaarrrich fans have been quick to let us know that Damien Francis will turn up, put on a decent show for a couple of months and then lose interest when the going gets really tough.

They’ve seen him play and we haven’t, but you have to treat this type of comment with some suspicion. Yes his goals had dried up come by the time the real relegation battle kicked in, but at that time Dean Ashton was on board and had started taking his (and the rest of the team’s) share of goals. I also find it hard to believe that a team that made such a good fist at survival did so with a passenger in central midfield.

Having seen him play against Boavista, Francis seems a big strong lad, who can get about and play a bit. Whether he’s the player who will free Bullard up to cause the opposition hassle only time will tell, but I for one will be letting him tell his own story and not believing Delia’s boys side of things.

If, come next May, they were right, then let them say ‘I told you so’, but until then remember the part that the Canaries fans played in their mid season lull, if they were blameless then why the ‘Les be haven yuuuuuuu’ debacle.

Don’t Turn Around
aswad “Never go back” is up there with “sick as a parrot” in the upper echelons of football clichés, but Dr De Zeuuw has always been one for defying expectations. When he left us to join Pompy’s Premiership bandwagon, more than a few predicted danger. Yet for a player whose career was seen to be on the wane when he joined, then Second Division, Wigan from Barnsley Ary has gone from strength to strength on the south coast.

This time it’s his old manager who is trying to tell us, and the world, that Ary’s heart isn’t in it. That the ‘best professional [Paul Jewell] has ever worked with’ has an attitude problem and chucked his dummy at the prospect of being on the Portsmouth bench. Now any of the few thousand regulars that saw the lad play for us knows that this is crap, there’s got to be more to it than that. De Zeuuw, in typically honest fashion, has said that it wasn’t fighting for his place that prompted him to look for a move, but that his relationship with Perrin was never right. Basically you get the feeling he’d been told he’d not feature at all and at 35 it’s either give up or move on if that happens.

Land Down Under
men-at-work Sounding more like an anagram than a footballer Josip Skoko has been well off my radar since, well, forever. The only things I can tell you about him are; he’s Australian (cue his opinion being sought on the Ashes battle by the Wigan Observer), he’s been playing in Turkey and he needs a Work Permit before we can sign him. Oh, and I think Manchester City were interested in signing him earlier this summer.

It’s unlikely that we’ll get any fans of the team that he’s been playing for (that I can neither spell nor pronounce, and as I’ve no internet connection as I type this, no way of looking up) on the CL message board, shouting the odds and telling us that he’ll be no good for us. Apparently he’s just come out of a good Confederations Cup, but a team like Australia is always going to take a tournament like that more seriously than, say, Germany. Any doubts I have are more to do with him being an unknown quantity, I’m guessing that we’ll get plenty of chance to judge his ability, going to the effort of getting a work permit suggests he’ll be more than a bit part player.

After these signings, there are two questions that spring to mind, are these signings what we expected and are they what we need (or enough of it at least). In terms of expectations, we were never really going to get any big names in but whilst Ary, Francis and Camara fit the bill of having Prem experience, it would have been nice to seen players who’ve done a little more, or been there a bit longer. Are they good enough? Well, I think it’s fair to say that the jury’s out.

I’ve concerns about our pace in the centre of defence and midfield and I don’t see the player that will give us the spark of quality we might need when our backs are against the wall. I do think the squad is a decent size now, but a lot depends on what happens with Ellington, if he stays we can probably wait for another striker, if he goes then Mr. Whelan needs to get on the phone to Re
al Madrid sharpish,
if Owen won’t come maybe we could borrow that Raul or that Brazilian lad. I’ve heard their not as good as they used to be, but I’m sure they can do us a job from the bench.

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