It’s been confirmed that Tal Ben Haim has joined Portsmouth on a four year deal. This was a logical deal with the Israeli international having little chance of first team football at Eastlands, while Pompey are desperate for proven Premier League players to bolster their decimated squad. Throw in the Abu Dhabi link of both clubs owners and it makes even more sense.
City fans never saw the best of Ben Haim, who has struggled since he left Sam Allardyce’s Bolton. Aside from Jo, he was Mark Hughes first signing, and probably his least successful. There was talk that he wasn’t actually a Hughes signing, but I’ve never been convinced by that one. He was happy to leave Chelsea, where he wasn’t getting much first team action, and apparently took a pay cut to join City. How many of our subsequent signings can say that?
The Israeli came in to provide competition for places across the back four, but isn’t quite big enough to dominate at centre-back or skillful enough on the ball for a top class full-back. He made a promising home debut in a pre-season friendly against AC Milan, but from then on struggled along with the rest of the defence to absorb the demands of Hughes’ style of play. A series of individual errors compounded his difficulties, with a particular low point coming away at Hull City. After being selected ahead of Nedum Onuoha, a sloppy back pass led to a goal and Joe Hart being injured.
With the return to form and fitness of Onuoha in the second half of last season, Ben Haim went on loan to Sunderland. A move away from City has seemed inevitable ever since, despite some improved performances in pre-season.