Portsmouth centre half Ricardo Rocha appears to be failing his Premiership audition the second time around after previously failing in the league with Spurs after yet another calamitous performance at the heart of Pompey’s defence against Liverpool.
It has to be said that Rocha has not come in under the best circumstances, the club are in administration, the team is bottom of the league and he is short of match practice and fitness, but his performances to date, even on a very basic level have been shocking.
Spurs fans will remember his ill-fated move to Spurs in January 2007 with much criticised former Sporting Director Damien Commoli held responsible for his signing. His fairly short spell with the club was largely forgettable, with manager Martin Jol only using him sparingly and the £3.3m they paid Portuguese side Benfica for his services looked a waste of money as the player looked severely out of his depth. He made just 18 appearances in all competitions, with only five coming in the league and will certainly go down as a flop.
Current manager Harry Redknapp brought an end to his spell at White Hart Lane with a cull of reserve team players being released after the Rocha’s contract expired. The stocky centre half looks to be poor in the air slow on the ground and with little or no positional sense. Not the tallest of centre halves, Rocha only stands at a fraction under 6ft and has proved mincemeat for the Premierships’ striker’s – a lack of height didn’t stop smaller centre halves such as Chris Perry or Fabio Cannavaro from being able to challenge in the air and it shouldn’t stop Rocha either, but his inability is clear for all to see.
His display against Liverpool was equally as poor, turned inside out for Babel’s goal and Torres’s second he also looks vulnerable to pace. The game at Anfield was a very open one and with Brown and Diop ahead of him providing very little in the way of cover he was constantly exposed time and time again. The current predicament Pompey find themselves in means they have had to replace the outgoing Younnes Kaboul, a brute of a centre half with a wimping violet like Rocha on a free transfer after he was released by Belgian side Standard Liege at the end of last season. The difference between the two is immeasurable.
Rocha has also had to play against an in form Man Utd at Old Trafford where he made his debut and saw Pompey on the wrong end of a 5-0 thumping. This has been followed by successive dismissals against both Sunderland and Burnley much to the detriment of his side. His lack of match fitness will surely have been cut short by the defender’s seeming lack of discipline.
It may be unfair to criticise Rocha for the circumstances he finds himself in are far from ideal, but his basic application in the art of defending is some way short of the standard required and although Pompey are short of numbers at the back, surely at present even the clumsy Aaron Mokoena would be a better alternative at centre half. Rocha looks out of his depth once again in the English top flight and Avram Grant would be well served to dump Rocha out of the side, for it appears as if his English adventure looks like failing badly once more.
Written by James McManus