Moutaouakil shows he has potential to make Blues point
Pompey winless record broken, the club plummeting to fresh lows in it's proud 115-Âyear history.
For Yassin Moutaouakil, though, the country’s favourite crisis club represents an opportunity to stoke the dying embers of a career which previously looked set to burn so bright.
What seeems a lifetime ago, the right-back skippered France’s under-21s to success in the 2007 Toulon Tournament.
Before then he was a member of the French side who took the Uefa European Under-19 Football Championship.
For the past two seasons, however, Moutaouakil had been turning out for Hayes & Yeading in the Blue Square Bet South.
The 26-year-old, who lined up alongside QPR’s Loic Remy on the international stage, has sunk a long way.
Now Moutaouakil is back in the Football League after being handed a lifeline by Guy Whittingham.
Having previously endured an unsuccessful Blues trial under Paul Hart in the summer of 2009, the defender has made six appearances for the Fratton Park club.
With Whittingham keen to rest members of his small squad, the Frenchman was on the bench for Tuesday night’s goalless draw with Hartlepool.
But the caretaker boss has been impressed with Moutaouakil so far.
He said: ‘I think Yassin has done tremendously well.
‘He is coming into a situation where he has been thrown straight in and has a point to prove to people. He was a French under-21 international and is desperate to get back into football.
‘We know he is a good runner and a good athlete and he knows there is room to improve, especially on his defending.
‘I think he has adjusted quite well since making the step back up again.
‘He had a tough time against Bournemouth last Saturday and in the first 15-20 minutes myself and Andy (Awford) talked to each other and said we were having problems down that side.
‘But after that I thought he did well.
‘It remains to be seen how well he does for the rest of the season but that’s one of the points of bringing these people in.
‘We know we can build for next season, we know where we are going to be so what’s the problem having a look at these people?
‘Okay, the results won’t be going our way as much as we would like to, but we have got to look at these people and prepare for next season.’
Moutaouakil arrived in England from Chateauroux in the summer of 2007, joining Charlton in a £600,000 move.
He would go on to play 29 times for the Addicks, before representing Motherwell for 15 games while on a loan spell north of the border.
He arrived at Fratton Park in 2009 with view to another loan. But he failed to impress sufficiently for that interest to be followed up and, after being released by Charlton a year later, had trials at the likes of Swansea and Oldham.
Since being offered a second chance by Pompey, Moutaouakil has become a regular.
That was until the trip to Victoria Park – although Whittingham insisted the defender’s exclusion was simply down to giving him a rest.
He added: ‘We wanted to make sure Yassin stays fit because he has played a lot of games in a short amount of time for someone who has not been at this level.
‘I think Yassin has done really well for us – he just needed a bit of time to get back his legs.’