Keith Hill’s super white army fell to defeat at the hands of Portsmouth on the south coast on Saturday, some performing better than others but nevertheless, a generally encouraging performance, we’re getting there...However, this isn’t twitter, this is a ratings assignment so generalisation aside, player performances I shall provide.
Remi Matthews - 7
Whilst Remi regained some priceless confidence against Oxford in the form of a clean sheet and only conceded via a penalty through no fault of his own on Saturday, Remi must’ve come into this one full of it and showed as much throughout, remaining composed yet alert, making some game changing saves including one particularly impressive improvisational one from a free kick midway through the second half, however the general consensus is that he should’ve done better with Pitman’s header, I’ll let you be the judge on that one in the comments. Its a 7 from me.
Josh Emmanuel - 6.5
Josh is a prime example of a player still finding his feet at Wanderers, still perhaps a touch off the pace and needs to be brought up to speed, perhaps should’ve been in good time given what seemed to be a prolonged period out of action before he joined.
Clearly an astute full back with plenty of strength, just slightly lacking in pace if I had to be critical of something specific. Providing Josh makes up for this in other areas of the game and is back to full fitness shortly then we shouldn’t have any issues where RB is concerned.
Yoan Zouma - 7
A return to the side since the initial run of fixtures fulfilled by the youngsters and more prominently after his late introduction to the Sunderland game following an injury to Jake Wright after which he somewhat naively conceded a last minute penalty costing us 3 points last weekend.
The youngster regained the fans trust in him and I hope the gaffer’s too against Pompey, remaining composed throughout and wasn’t afraid to press forward nor was he afraid to get under the likes of Pitman’s skin. Another encouraging impromptu appearance from the centre halve, I just hope any temptations to make any impulse/rash challenges are eliminated from his game with the more experience he gets.
Jack Hobbs - 6
A somewhat clumsy display from Hobbs on Saturday unfortunately giving away both the ball and fouls in dangerous areas, often unnecessarily, on numerous occasions. This could be perceived every so often as taking one for the team but I think with the cover that the likes of Bridcutt, Lowe and Zouma provide, a lot of this can be cut out and hopefully sacrificial challenges won’t be something we see too much more of this season, especially from Hobbs.
Adam Chicksen - 6.5
A reasonable display from Chicksen, one I didn’t notice too much of which suggests he had a good game, a left back doing his job, however I feel his presence, especially going forward is less than noticeable and is often beaten easily by his man however, he isn’t prone to getting too roped into unnecessary challenges and everything he contributes to is clearly calculated and well thought through. Jus another prime example of a newbee finding their feet and getting up to speed. We’ll get there.
Jason Lowe - 7
Another I didn’t notice too much on Saturday, however his role is one which requires one to notice his actions and occasionally makes himself known, steadying the ship, usually complementing Bridcutt very well as he has for the last few weeks, a sense a great partnership coming along nicely, hopefully its one which develops both of their games and allows them to become very relaxed and comfortable in their roles in front of the back four as it is gradually appearing.
Liam Bridcutt - 8
8 is the highest I can give out for a loss and my word is Bridcutt worthy of it. Man of the match once again, by a country mile, this man is a god send. I’m rapidly falling in love with Liam’s game, his leadership qualities and everything he brings to the team and I just plead with Forest to let us keep him because he automatically makes us ten times better. The game revolves around him, everything goes through him and most attacking periods of play are created by him.
He’s composed, agile, intelligent, confident, enthusiastic, technically so gifted and a player which has to be one of the best signings we’ve made in a very long time, even if its only a loan. I don’t even have to go into great detail about his performance on Saturday, Liam was just Liam and that tells you everything you need to know, absolutely fantastic.
Will Buckley - 6
A relatively under the radar performance from Buckley this weekend following his noticeably improved spell as a central striker, making himself not only more available but also more of a threat and allows him more of a free role to put himself about and get in to good positions, however, out on the right, Buckley added very little for me, the only action of note from memory was him squandering the chance brilliantly created from nothing by Zouma.
Will needs to expand his game somewhat and I’m sure he’ll come good and prove to us all what a top player he can be as he has in his previous spells under Keith Hill. A goal would do him the world of good and boost his confidence no end.
Ali Crawford - 6
Crawford remains the only Wanderers signing that I’m not yet sold on in terms of holding down a regular place in the starting eleven given the, amazingly, extensive attacking options we now suddenly seem to have. He’s very good from a set piece and can provide wicked free kicks and corners when asked of him, yet his open play is something that could really do with some confidence added to it, a goal for instance, similar to Buckley, would do him, his overall game and his confidence the world of good.
Bedding each player in was always going to take time, I think we’re bordering on the time realistically needed though now for this to take effect and I’m sure the management team will be thinking the same too. Would do no harm to mix it up with the likes of Darcy, King Harmes and Eddie Brown if necessary to keep it fresh, I presume they’ll have a timely opportunity to prove that on Tuesday against Rochdale,
Thibaud Verlinden - 7.5
Another impressive appearance from the tricky winger, continually asked questions of the Pompey defence, was always eager to get on the ball, try and make chances, create cause for concern amongst the defence and generally wreak havoc which he did to full effect as per. He’s some player and is another I hope we’ll be able to keep beyond January.
I believe he picked up a slight knock which I hope is nothing serious as I presume is the reason Politic replaced him rather than Buckley. Would like to see those two as our regular starters out wide, not many better partnerships than those two on the wings in this league. Its a formula we’ve been lacking for a long time that I feel we could potentially have found at least a temporary solution to.
Daryl Murphy - 7
Daryl made his Wanderers debut on Saturday, a hotly anticipated appearance which Whites fans expected would signal the beginning of all their dreams coming true and one which would quash any uncertainty of league one survival, no pressure then, Daryl.
Murphy made a positive first impression by all accounts, making himself available constantly, battled well both on the floor and in the air, was very mobile for the first hour, dropping deep to receive the ball and help out in midfield and also looked comfortable on the ball and wasn’t shy of shooting which is a huge positive. I just hope 90 minutes wasnt too much too soon and will be raring to go again and bag us a goal or two on Monday.
Of course, he’s another fresh from injury and is just getting up to speed and needs time to gel with the squad. The goals will come in good time. As Hill has implied, they’ll be careful with him and only left him on at Pompey as he was our best chance of an equaliser as much as it was a risk fitness wise which speaks volumes of how perhaps the gaffer trusts him and how comfortably we can be reliant upon Daryl for his goals given his extensive track record for doing so elsewhere.
Dennis Politic - 6
Had half an hour and perhaps didn’t quite make the impact Hill nor the fans nor the team were quite hoping for. Pompey had obviously prepared well for his introduction and dealt with him well, closing him down and cutting off his usual routes down the channel and cutting inside at almost every time of asking. Was useful as ever, just wasn’t his game and was effectively marked out of it for the time he played.
Luke Murphy - 5
Replaced Emmanuel which saw Lowe drop to RB. Fairly ineffective in the middle and Bridcutt is a million times the player he is. Adds very little and perhaps isn’t one which quite fits the mould of this team that seems to be being formed around the two holding midfielders, occupied by Lowe & Bridcutt which shouldn’t be messed with too much if we can help it but can appreciate its perhaps necessary whilst Emmanuel’s back up to speed and I therefore expect it to be a regular switch until he’s completely ready to play 90 minutes.
I understand he’ll be required if we lose Bridcutt in January but at this stage, we’ve other options such as Sonny Graham and even Adam Senior who I imagine would happily fill the void and do a cracking job in his place. Its important we don’t forget about the kids, they’re the foundation of this squad now really. They’re all hugely talented with bright futures and have already proven to the fans in the first few games that their temporary fill ins were still of a higher standard than many of those senior performances towards the back end of last season. All I ask is that they’re not forgotten about or even phased out, they’re more valuable than they might currently appear.
An appropriate summary I feel for this piece then would be a request to give them more time and although I understand the frustrations and the impatience, its not going to happen overnight, yes we badly need a win, yes we need goals, but we also need a squad who are ready to play 90 minutes together, knowing each other inside out and are able to create a winning formula for the season, all of which should/will come with time. I therefore plead with you to allow Hilly & Flic to work their magic and prove to us that it’ll be worth the wait.