The Portsmouth Offside Trap
Remember the scene and line from the Full Monty when the ex-boss, Gerald was trying to get the lads to lineup and Dave the pie man finally figures it out by proclaiming it’s the “Arsenal Offside Trap”
“The Arsenal offside trap. Lomper ‘ere is Tony Adams right? Any bugger looks like scoring, we all step forward in a line and wave our arms around like a fairy.”
Days worth of coverage and books of biblical lengths have already been written about the Redknapp inspired rejuvenation of Tottenham, but it seems that barely a post-it note has been written in the national media since Tony Adams was named Pompey’s new leader. With only one, less than successful, inroad to the managerial side of the house at Wycombe, it is worth keeping an eye on developments at Fratton Park over the next few months.
Last week I tuned into the 7:00 am Pacific Time offering from the Fox Soccer Channel to watch Pompey make the long trip north to face Sunderland. Keane versus Adams; an opposition veiled in history from their years of captaining Manchester United and Arsenal, respectively. With big Tone only in his third game in charge since the departure of ‘Arry to the Lane, this was the first time they matched up against each other as managers, funnily enough just 2 hours after the first 2008-09 installment of Arse versus Man U.
With Keano’s lads stuttering and Portsmouth looking a bit bewildered since HR headed back to the capital, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As it was early enough, I figured a return to sleep the most likely outcome.
It was actually a pretty decent game. Sunderland should have had the points away after the first half-hour but a combination of the woodwork, a couple saves from England’s maybe number one, and the linesman’s flag kept Pompey in the game. Portsmouth came back with a second half screamer from Belhadj and Roy went home less than pleased when Defoe drilled in an injury time winner from the spot after a comedic attempt at a tackle from Diouf.
I mentioned the flag helped keep the game close especially in the first half. To be honest it didn’t really occur to me at the time but the flag was going up on the Sunderland strikers quicker than a Cisse call to his barber on a speed-dial. After several Sunderland attacks, I realized I’d seen this before – of course Big Dave on the Full Monty. Cue the camera to the dugout as the managers begrudgingly shake hands, and of course, the architect of the Arsenal offside trap himself has just recorded his first EPL managerial victory.
Could this be the second coming of the famous trap? The stats show that Sunderland were called offside 7 times last week (including a disallowed goal), and in the 3 matches that Adams has been in charge, Portsmouth’s opponents have already been flagged 16 times. That has to be a bit above the league average and if Adams builds a defense that even somewhat resembles the shape and format of the back line that he led into battle for 18 years at Highbury, then the second entry on his managerial CV might be a successful one.