The manager debate goes on. Who should get the job a safe pair of experienced hands or an exciting young football hero like Ole Gunnar? Lampitt has today discussed the importance of understanding Pompey , so could it be Prosi, could Kit Symonds get involved. As I've previously noted I think the cause of Pompey apathy at the moment is the realisation that our golden era is over and probably won't return. We have just lived through the second finest period in the clubs history but how many of the cup winning team would be described as fans favourites? Sol? Glenn? Niko? I'm not sure. But it did get me thinking what makes a player a fans favourite? It seems to me to be two broad categories, player attributes and human characteristics. However I think on top of all this a good catchy chant elevates players in fans consciousness almost as much as any skill level, which could explain the current dearth.
The easiest way to the fans hearts is to be local. Luke Nightingale was given cracking support not only because of his two goal debut against the baggies but also his Milton roots. Joel Ward has got great potential and here's hoping he fulfils it. There is another blog to be written about Pompeys recent youth team policy and how Alex Oxdy Chamberlain probably could have been ours, but the fact remains there have been precious few examples of Portsmoothians wearing the star and crescent. To a lesser extent nonlocal youth team products benefit from the same bump start of popularity and there are more recent examples, Wilson, Cifti, Ryan Williams - but I think you have to go back to O'Neil to be the last with any longevity.
Player longevity is no guarantee of affection. But it helps especially if combined with consistent performances because this combination would lead to loyalty as longterm consistent performance would lead to interest from other clubs. Alan Knight is the simplest and finest example of this.
Football is a human, personality based tribal affair. Fans warm to people they like or can emphasise with. Linvoy Primus is the text book example - but also one of the strangest, a combination of annual improving performance and, seemingly his community based work founded in his Christianity. Marwell de Zeuw's stoic refusal to react to Diouf spitting in his face also received plaudits. But then again these personal traits do not have to be virtuous - Johnny Larger's attitude and lifestyle were easier for most to understand.
For all of these personality based traits they have to be combined with ability. For example Yoshi Kawaguchi's sunny disposition was not enough to maintain longterm support as his attempts to applaud the faithful after the 4 - 1 home defeat to Orient proved although it probably did gain him more time.
Fans like nothing more than a crunching tackle. It shows commitment and that is what the average fan wants - it's the least the players can give them for their wages and ongoing support. But again Pompey are strangely lacking this at present. Brown, Davies, Hughes, Mendez, Diarra were brilliant examples but i used to enjoy the hatchet men of Vlachos, Thorgeson, Khul. There is also the derivative category of the attacking player willing to run and haphazardly tackle - an attribute that separates fan favourite matt Taylor from the more talented but less energetic Kranjcar.
Similarly a player with great pace always goes down well. Be it Jimmy 'Sanjay' Carter or Paul Hall or Courtney Pitt who the news always prefixed in their articles with the phrase 'fan's favourite'! Nothing excites the fans more than the simplicity of a surge of pace to beat a man - and that's why the fans are happy to see Ryan Williams' cameo performances.
The simplest way to the fans hearts is to score goals, as goals wins games. Creany, Whittingham, Toddy - unfortunately this situation is currently vacant in the team.
Having said all that there is a great degree of personal preference in favourites in all honesty creative footballers have always been my idols, there is a degree to which defending can be taught, but you can not teach the vision of Niko or the trickery of Prosi.
Any which way we could do with a unifying figure at the club at the moment to build the excitement levels at the park.