Wilson’s Wisdom: Did the body language give the game away to Pompey fans?

Craig Westcarr
Craig Westcarr
  • Pompey fans have questioned Craig Westcarr’s commitment
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So another Pompey striker has made his exit from Fratton Park.

Craig Westcarr is the latest forward to wave goodbye.

It’s unlikely there will be too many tears shed at his departure.

It’s also doubtful he will be that sorry to leave either.

He must have known his days were numbered the moment Paul Cook was appointed.

Just as he did at Chesterfield, Cook showed him the door within a few weeks of taking over.

It’s safe to assume that the Blues boss already has replacements lined up, or certainly believes he can find better.

With that in mind, it makes total sense that Westcarr has left.

It simply didn’t work out for him at Pompey.

But there were times I felt a bit sorry for him during his stay.

Early on he looked a decent goalscorer with three goals in his first six games.

And seven goals in 37 games is not a disastrous record – we’ve had worse than him down the years – and he certainly had his moments.

His lob at Yeovil in the JPT win was a classy finish and his glancing header created the momentum that eventually led to a remarkable fightback to beat Tranmere 3-2.

But he never quite clicked with the fans.

Many will argue that he simply never looked that bothered, and it’s hard to disagree with that.

Contrast him with another former Pompey striker, Benjani, who had a similar goalscoring rate but added much more to the team in terms of his visible work-rate.

In his first season at the club, the Zimbabwean managed one goal in 16 appearances, followed by six goals in 34 appearances the following season.

In his defence, it was against better defenders in the Premier League but, then again, Westcarr didn’t cost £4m.

There’s a lot to be said for a footballer’s body language and maybe that’s where Westcarr failed.

Just suppose you are a striker and there happened to be a wayward Joe Devera pass hurtling out of play that you know you couldn’t retrieve.

Do you respond with slumped shoulders, a disappointed shake of the head and a jog back into position to conserve a bit of energy for later?

Or do you put in what you know will be a fruitless sprint, a desperate slide to the touchline, followed by some arm-waving towards your team-mate?

Both acts will see the same end result – an opposition throw-in.

Except in the eyes of some, there is a world of difference in how that reaction underlines a player’s commitment.

Perhaps some footballers just need to learn to ‘play the game’ a bit better – and by that, I mean putting on a bit of an act.

Some gritted teeth to chase a ball down can go a long way, if you throw in a bit of demonstrative clapping and the odd fist pump.

Perhaps it’s all smoke and mirrors. Maybe it’s a barometer on how much a player actually cares about his club.

But it’s too easy to conclude that a footballer is not committed or doesn’t care if they don’t show their emotions.

Perhaps some people are just wired differently.