Everton 0 Portsmouth 3: Redknapp makes strong case for Crouch and Defoe
Monday 01 September 2008
Harry redknapp and Fabio Capello appear to have made up, and judging by their current mutual interests that may be no bad thing.
The Portsmouth manager joked on Saturday evening that the England manager had informed him, in response to his acerbic observations on the system under which England laboured against the Czech Republic at Wembley last month, that: "If you can play Younes Kaboul on the left, then I can play Steven Gerrard there."
Redknapp opted here for nothing more esoteric than the deployment of two rampant wing-backs – including a dazzling Glen Johnson – to feed Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe. It was a 3-5-2 formation that Redknapp last used during Portsmouth's promotion-winning campaign five years ago, and he would have tried it against Manchester United last week but for the thought that, "If we get chinned here, I'm finished with it." There will be plenty of airings from now on, though. It looks tailored for Armand Traoré, who seems like a wonderful loan acquisition, down the left.
Redknapp has had a few worries about his new £20m strike force – "After a couple of bad results you start to think maybe it ain't working," he said – but he believes that the pairing which did well for Capello against Trinidad & Tobago in Port of Spain in June could work again. "I think they could play for England," he said. "They should be a perfect pair, the little fella getting onto the big guy's flicks. I was surprised Crouch was left out of the last squad. They get on well."
Wayne Rooney's presence complicates things, of course, but Defoe's near single-handed destruction of Everton – weaving an unfeasibly tight route through five defenders to pop a low shot past Tim Howard after Crouch had nodded on for him, then chipping in off the underside of the bar from 20 yards – made a powerful case for a role against Andorra and Croatia.
"Maybe with the new manager this is the first time I have had a decent chance with England," Defoe said. "When you see a manager has faith in you and he plays you, you feel great. It hasn't been like that before, to be honest. That brings a pressure to perform with it, but it is all about pressure at this level."
Johnson, also recalled by Capello this year, made a strong case, too. The passes with Defoe which sent him gliding through delivered a second goal of quite exquisite beauty.
There is nothing quite so divine around Goodison Park at the moment. The stifling, airless space in which David Moyes spoke after materialising a full hour after his side's defeat was a metaphor for the stew the club are in over their struggle to sign players. Hopes still linger of an 11th hour-agreement with Sporting Lisbon over Joao Moutinho's mooted £18m move, but the defensive errors which gave this game up had more to do with the sense of brittleness that the club have talked themselves into than the absence of a record signing.
Goals: Defoe (12) 0-1; Johnson (40) 0-2; Defoe (69) 0-3.
Everton (4-4-2): Howard; Neville Yobo, Lescott, Baines; Arteta, Rodwell, Jagielka, Osman (Baxter, 71); Yakubu, Vaughan (Anichebe, 58). Substitutes not used: Turner (gk), Jacobsen, Nuno Valente, Kissock, Wallace.
Portsmouth (3-5-2): James; Kaboul, Campbell, Distin; Johnson, Diop, Davis (Mvuemba, 90), Diarra, A Traoré; Crouch, Defoe (Utaka, 76). Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Lauren, Sahar, D Traoré.
Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire).
Booked: Everton Baines.
Man of the match: Defoe.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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