On this day: Portsmouth midfielder Lassana Diarra hits back at Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger… Benjani’s pal keen to sign for Blues

Have a look at the Pompey headlines that were making the back page of The News on this day...

Sunday, 26th May 2019, 10:00 am
Lassana Diarra, right, celebrates with boss Harry Redknapp after Pompey's FA Cup triumph

Benjani’s pal keen to pen deal (2006)

Benjani Mwaruwari’s pal said he was close to joining Pompey.

Toulouse’s powerful defensive midfielder Achille Emana insisted talks were taking place to bring the player to Fratton Park.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Pompey chief executive Peter Storrie refused to rule out a move for the African – but said no signing was imminent.

Emana was the man Harry Redknapp watched on a trip to France after he was recommended to him by French international Christian Karembeu.

The player was seen as one of the most exciting young prospects in Le Championnat and the Cameroon international attracted interest from Arsenal, Lyon and Everton.

He played 25 times for Toulouse during 2005-06, scoring two goals and earned widespread plaudits for his destructive performances.

Toulouse were demanding £4.75m for the player, who was good friends with record signing Benjani.

Emana said: ‘Yes, Toulouse and Portsmouth are negotiating.

‘I am very interested in moving to this team and I am quite optimistic.

‘I have been playing in France for six years now, and I would like to know something else.

‘The Premier League is a fantastic championship, it interests me a lot. I would like to bring to Portsmouth everything I can.

‘I have a close friend who plays there, Benjani. I would be happy to play with him, and I would discover a new team, new teammates, and new staff.

‘It is the beginning of a new era for me and I wish to blossom there.’

Diarra hits back at Arsenal (2008)

Lassana Diarra hit back at Arsene Wenger’s criticism for him leaving Arsenal and said: I was right to join Pompey.

The Gunners boss believed the powerful midfielder ‘panicked’ by leaving for the Blues in the January transfer window and would have been given the run in the first team he craved had he waited for his chance.

But Diarra spoke out against his former manager, claiming Pompey’s FA Cup success had shown his decision to leave the Emirates was the correct one.

Diarra said: ‘Portsmouth winning the FA Cup has more than justified my decision to make the move from Arsenal back in January.

‘I really can’t understand why Mr Wenger is choosing to make such a fuss over me again.

‘Why does he not move on? He speaks about me more than when I was there. It’s a very strange one.’

Diarra also hinted Wenger had gone back on a promise of first-team football after leaving Chelsea in search of regular games.

And despite the Gunners boss believing he jumped ship too soon to preserve his Euro 2008 hopes, Diarra insisted Wenger had not kept his part of the bargain.

He said: ‘Do you really think I would leave a side like Chelsea to join Arsenal if certain promises were not made?

‘I did not panic but wanted to play as promised.’

Hart the man for the job (2009)

Hayden Mullins championed Paul Hart to become Pompey’s managerial future.

The director of youth operations was set to be unveiled as the Blues boss for the 2009-10 season and beyond.

The long-term appointment would be recognition for saving the club from Premier League relegation.

In the end, under Hart’s charge Pompey finished 14th – seven points clear of the drop zone.

A board meeting was set to convene to hand the reins to the former Nottingham Forest boss beyond the initial 14 games at the tail-end of the season.

It was a decision Mullins would comprehensively agree with.

He said: ‘He’s done brilliant, I think he deserves it.

‘Brian (Kidd) doesn’t get many of the mentions but he’s been brilliant, too, and I think both of them work really well together.

‘They have come in and steadied the ship, brought a calmness to it and we’re happy with the way it’s going.

‘He’s brought his own ideas in and it’s been a case of getting on the training pitch and working with him, getting through what he wants.

‘We’ve got a different structure of play and that’s what the boys stick to and it’s paid off. We’ve had some good results under him.

‘He’s definitely the right man for the job and I think he’s shown that.’

Van still the man (2011)

Andrew Andronikou believed Anthony Vanden Borre could be tempted back to Fratton Park.

The Belgium international returned to parent club Genoa following the end of his season-long Pompey loan spell.

Inevitably, the Blues were in no position to offer a permanent deal to the attacking right-back.

But Andronikou had his sights on Vanden Borre returning on another loan agreement to spearhead life in the Championship.

The administrator claimed he has been encouraged by the 22-year-old’s response after putting the idea to him.

He said: ‘Vanden Borre performed exceptionally well in the last few games he came in.

‘At the end of the season, all our loans had to return to their parent clubs but he’s certainly one we want to keep.

‘I don’t believe he wants to go back to Italy. He enjoyed his time here and wants to stay in England.

‘It has been mentioned to him about c o m i n g back to us andhehas definitely s h o w n an interest.

‘Let’s not forget, he enjoyed his time here and next year will continue to get first-team experience, which is attractive to him.

‘He has gone back to speak to Genoa to see what he can achieve.

‘They will have to decide whether to keep him or not.

‘I suppose a lot will depend on whether another club comes in for him, they may not be keen on him coming back.

‘But we are optimistic he will return.’

Cook’s eyes wide open (2015)

Paul Cook faced up to the task of rejuvenating Pompey and promised: My eyes are wide open.

And the Blues boss admitted he could have had a problem with the club's contracted players, as he aimed to shake up the club's fortunes.

Cook was quick to put into action his plans for taking his new club out of League Two.

That has included removing four staff from the senior set-up and bringing in assistant manager Leam Richardson and first-team coach Ian Foster.

The 48-year-old delivered an emphatic assessment of his options the previous week, as he released nine of the club's 11 out-of-contract players.

But he admitted that may have been harsh on those who were shown the door.

Cook said: ‘Maybe it was unfair on the nine lads.

‘Any of the lads could have been out of contract. It's the way it falls sometimes.

‘If you were one of the nine it could have been seen as an opportunity to use their money to bring others in.

‘But maybe it's some of the ones who are still under contract who could be the problem.

‘My eyes are wide open. It doesn't surprise me what I've seen so far. It's pretty much what I knew.

‘There are things I want to look for right away and want to see.

‘You want to look at how the lads train and how many training days have they missed?

‘You look for things like that because they are key stats in performance.

‘If you see imbalances within that, there's a problem.'