Barker: Fans can see why we chased Diagouraga

Toumani Diagouraga celebrates Pompey's win. Picture: Joe Pepler
Toumani Diagouraga celebrates Pompey's win. Picture: Joe Pepler

It was the culmination of an exhaustive six-week pursuit for Richie Barker.

And last night the Blues boss believes the Fratton faithful witnessed what the fuss over Toumani Diagouraga was all about as the midfielder turned in an inspired showing.

The loanee from Brentford marked his Pompey home debut with an immense display in the heart of the midfield against Accrington Stanley.

Jake Jervis was the match-winner with a 48th-minute strike from long range – his fourth goal for the club since his January return.

But it was the towering Diagouraga who really caught the eye with his powerful performance in the heart of Barker’s engine room.

An outstanding 90 minutes from the 26-year-old Frenchman, who earned his manager’s praise afterwards. And a tantalising taste for Pompey fans of what he can bring to the side and their relegation battle during his temporary stay.

Barker said: ‘Toumani is something I said I thought we didn’t have, he covers some ground.

‘We’ve asked him to play in a slightly different way.

‘It is a little bit alien to the way he plays and a little bit alien to why I brought him in but I think he showed last night why we were working so hard to get him here.

‘It took me six weeks to get him in, six week’s worth of effort and he proved yesterday why.

‘I thought he was our man of the match.

‘He was the most effective in everything he did and must be a nightmare to play against.

‘Having said that, I thought the players were all excellent – their mentality, they knew what their jobs were and went about it the right way.

‘But when I came in one of the things I openly said was we needed some legs in the team and I think with Jake (Jervis), Michael Drennan and Toumani, yesterday, we did that.

‘He keeps the ball, he can play and he’s not a regular squad member of a team that has been in the top six of League One for two years for no reason. I was amazed they allowed him out.

‘Fair play to him for going from a squad player at the top of League One and nearly getting into the Championship to coming into a relegation fight at the bottom of League Two.

‘He has given it a good crack, to be fair to him, and I’m sure enjoyed the atmosphere.’

Diagouraga has joined the Blues on an initial month’s loan and made his first appearance at the weekend.

The result was a 5-1 defeat at Scunthorpe – one of the more forgettable bows for a Pompey debutant over the years.

He retained his place for last night’s visit of Accrington to Fratton Park, this time partnering Romain Padovani rather than Thery Racon as Barker made five changes to his side.

It was Diagouraga’s ninth league start of the season in total, having fallen out of the first-team frame at Brentford as the campaign has progressed.

Yet while Barker is hopeful of potentially extending his loan stay, he is fully aware there is nothing permanent in the pipeline beyond the end of the season.

He added: ‘He’s not out of contract in the summer, so we won’t be getting him.

‘Well, that is unless we win the lottery!’