The ultimate Portsmouth six-a-side team - who's made it into your dream Blues small-sided line-up?

The debate has been raging ever since Gary O’Neil named his ultimate career six-a-side team.

Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 12:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 4:22 pm

Just how much the Blues favourite valued his eight years in the first-team frame at Fratton was underlined as every single one of his picks came from his time at the club he is most closely associated with.

Given the quality of a career which also saw top-flight service at Middlesbrough, West Ham and Norwich along with stays at the likes of QPR and Bristol City that’s quite a compliment to the midfielder’s PO4 team-mates.

But then it was rich pickings when it came to the outstanding quality of footballer the former player of the year worked with during the Premier League era.

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It was O’Neil’s selection which was the catalyst for Pompey fans to consider who they would plump for if they could pick their perfect small-sided line-up (and in a period when it’s proving a little challenging to keep the story count up The News thank him profusely for that).

And what a task it’s been to come up with a team who’d send the opposition running for cover at PlayFootball, Goals or, for those who’ve been around long enough, Soccer City...

The criteria for selection has proved a very subjective business, depending on your era and what you value in a footballer.

The seven years spent at English football’s top table has offered fertile ground for picking some of the most talented players to ever wear the star and crescent on their chest.

Sol Campbell with David James (centre) and Sylvain Distain

But to choose exclusively from that outstanding crop would be to ignore some outstanding players, whose qualities would undoubtedly shine in the tight confines of a six-a-side pitch.

And what floats your footballing boat? Does the thought of Mick Kennedy clattering the opposition into the fence or Gavin Maguire re-enacting that infamous Masters football moment with his clenched fist cocked over Matt Le Tissier do it for you?

Or is it the prospect of Robert Prosinecki, Paul Merson or Lomana Lualua leading the opposition a merry dance which excites?

And it’s not just a case of picking your favourite players, too. Getting the perfect balance of silk and steel along with a blend of defence and attack is crucial.

Lassana Diarra

It’s those factors which prompted O’Neil to highlight his selection - David James, Sylvain Distin, Sol Campbell, Robert Prosinecki, Merson and Teddy Sheringham - was based upon the six best players he’d lined up with in his career, after being taken to task by another ex-Blues favourite in Richard Hughes.

Hughes’ standpoint was a six-player choice should result in a line-up in which players complemented each other. And, in fairness to the former long-serving midfielder and Scottish international, his choice of James, Glen Johnson, Distin, Andres D’Alessandro, Patrik Berger and Jermain Defoe powerfully nails that remit.

These Pompey-watching eyes arrived at selection of James, Distin, Mick Kennedy, Robert Prosinecki, Paul Walsh and Yakubu in search of that ideal blend of pace, power, strength and skill required.

Although perhaps not the perfect line-up, it was one which ticked the boxes satisfactorily in terms of possessing a bit of everything required on a six-a-side pitch.

Paul Walsh and Guy Whittingham

It wasn’t a choice to the taste of everyone, however, with former Blues defender Gavin Maguire perhaps being one of the few who could call a side containing Mick Kennedy a ‘soft team’, as he joked of my side on Twitter.

But, most importantly, the Pompey people have spoken.

And amid 58 players nominated by those who forwarded their selections, the chosen six have emerged:

David James Sylvain Distin Sol Campbell Lassana Diarra Robert Prosinecki Paul Walsh

First of all, a pat on the back to all who voted.

Amid some of the more left-field choices from the likes of @fm_researcher, @pompeyblue1980 and @13umbro (Hamilton Thorp, Ivica Mornar and Robbie Pethick) and the THREE people such as @gavj1982 who chose Kosta Chalkias, an impressive final team has been arrived at.

One or two (@phillippparker and @rogers1898pfc) felt their teams were so good they only needed to name five players, while @FosterAdrian went back to the playground and the ‘rush goalie’ approach, as he went for six outfield players and no keeper.

By far the most popular pick was James in goal, in front of Alan Knight by some distance.

Prosinecki and Lassana Diarra tied as the outfield players who featured most prominently, keeping out quality such as Paul Merson and D’Alessandro who also featured heavily.

Defensively, it was Distin and Campbell who accrued the most votes as they tied. There is a case to say just one of those could have been chosen with a more forward-thinking defender like Johnson, Matt Taylor or Nadir Belhadj.

Likewise, Walsh conceivably could have been used behind prominent choices such as Yakubu and Defoe in a gung-ho attacking line-up.

But, in the final reckoning, it was the most popular six overall who got the nod over picking the most heavily favoured for a particular type of role.

Now we just need Sky Sports to bring back Masters football with this imperious chosen Pompey super six a shoo-in to emerge victorious...