BURTON ALBION SPORTS REPORTER JOSHUA MURRAY GIVES POMPEYNEWSNOW THE LOWDOWN ON NEW POMPEY SIGNING TOM NAYLOR.
Hugh – Can you explain a little about your role at the Burton Mail Sport, for fans who are not familiar with your work?
Joshua – I am the Burton Albion writer for the Burton Mail, meaning I follow the Brewers up and down the country, home and away, and report the latest news from the club.
Hugh – As a fellow writer, what is the most interesting story you covered on Tom Naylor?
Joshua – This might not class as ‘interesting’, but Naylor’s injury-time winner for the Brewers against Gillingham on the penultimate day of the 2015-16 season moved them to within touching distance of promotion to the Championship. It was one of the most important goals in the club’s history, and I will never forget the celebrations that met that goal. Getting to report on that was an enjoyable day!
Hugh – Naylor came second in Burton’s supporters player of the season. Why was Naylor so popular with the fans?
Joshua – He had a knack for scoring important goals, like that effort against Gillingham, so that will always endear a player to supporters. But it was much more than that. Naylor fit the Brewers mould: he played at a consistently high intensity, he never stopped running and you could tell how much it meant to him to help this club on its upward journey.
Hugh – Nigel Clough said Burton offered Naylor a new contract to become the “joint-highest paid player at the club”. Do you feel money or a new challenge persuaded Naylor to move to the South Coast?
Joshua – As with all moves like this, the details of what Naylor was offered by both clubs are not disclosed. Naylor himself has said that the time felt right for a fresh challenge and to take on this opportunity at “a huge club” that is likely to be pushing for promotion. He will be keen to get back into the Championship, and he clearly feels that Pompey have a good chance of doing that.
Hugh – Naylor scored the last minute goal against Gillingham which helped fire Burton into the Championship. Is Naylor the type of player who elevates his play in important games?
Joshua – He certainly had the ability to pop up with vital goals at crucial times, in that promotion season and in the Championship too. I wouldn’t say he elevates his game, though. As the 26-year-old showed last season, he is able to play at a consistently high level on a weekly basis, regardless of the opposition or the context.
Hugh – Last season Naylor primarily played centre-back. Pompey played a 4-2-3-1 formation and will want Naylor to play in defensive midfield. Do you think defensive midfield is where he fits into the lineup best?
Joshua – It looks as though he has been earmarked for a midfield role at Portsmouth, which will work well. He is a dynamic player in the middle, good at winning possession back while also timing runs into the box well. I can see him in that holding role for Pompey, although his versatility means he could be used elsewhere in midfield or at the back.
Hugh – What are his strengths Pompey fans should look out for?
Joshua – That versatility is important. He produced eye-catching performances for Burton in midfield or in central defence. Wherever he is playing, Naylor likes to get on the ball and get his team on the front foot. That knack for important goals – many of them with his head – is a positive too.
Hugh – Does he have any areas in his game you think he can improve on?
Joshua – He can occasionally be susceptible to giving possession away when he looks to play out, and that is obviously more noticeable when he plays at the back. That is partially down to him always looking for a positive forward pass, rather than going direct too often.
Hugh – Pompey and Burton should both be battling it out for promotion this season. Where do you think Burton and Pompey will finish in League One?
Joshua – At this stage in the summer and with some contract situations not yet decided, it is hard to know with Burton. If they can retain the majority of their squad, I think they can make a good bid to get back into the Championship, perhaps via the play-offs. It could be a similar story for Pompey. It’s 11 months until the end of next season, but right now, I can see both teams being in the battle for a top-six finish.
Photo – Official PFC