Blues hero has plenty left to give

Ricardo Rocha
Ricardo Rocha

Guy Whittingham assessed the impressive return of Ricardo Rocha and declared: He’s got plenty left in the tank.

Within days of his appointment, the caretaker Blues boss made a popular decision among the supporters when he tempted the Portuguese centre-back back to Pompey.

While previous boss Michael Appleton was convinced that Rocha’s age had finally caught up with him and he wasn’t up to the physical demands of League One football, many fans disagreed.

Those opinions have been backed up by Rocha’s performances, as the 34-year-old has added a trademark calmness and authority to the Blues defence, which now looks a lot more solid with him in the side.

But Whittingham insists the player has plenty more to give and shrugged off any notion that his legs have gone.

‘I certainly haven’t seen any signs of him lacking fitness or pace,’ said Whittingham.

‘He’s played a few games now and it’s early days so we will see where he is after Christmas.

‘The calmness he brings and his reading of the game is excellent for us.

‘His experience of playing in that position is fantastic and the information he gives out to the others around him.

‘He’s been a great asset to us and has bought that competition for places that we didn’t have before.’

While Rocha’s ability has been a welcome addition, Whittingham also pointed to his affinity to the club as a key factor in the decision to bring him back.

Whittingham said: ‘He’s got a connection with the fans because of the type of player and the type of person he is.

‘We needed that and the fans needed that. It was nice to be able to give them that.

‘He is someone who has given everything for the club and that’s the type of character we need here. Not just for the rest of the season but hopefully for a while to come.

‘Some players do get gripped by this place and Ricardo is one of them.

‘He came down a few years ago when nobody knew much about him.

‘But the performances he has put in – and everybody remembers the semi-final against Spurs in 2010 – people have taken to him and he has taken to the people down here.

‘He’s also the type of character who will do everything to help out the youngsters.’

Whittingham also revealed he has had to stop the defender from training every day to keep him fresh for matches.

The Blues boss said: ‘With people of the older generation, you have to remember that they don’t recover as quickly.

‘You might not have him out on the training pitch every day and sometimes you have to tell them because they want to be out there.

‘You have to insist and tell them to stay inside some days.

‘All experienced players know their bodies but sometimes a hint from the staff is beneficial for them.’