Date: 15th March 2018 at 8:58am
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There was a little uncertainty as to what way Pompey would line up against Gillingham on Saturday, but Kenny Jackett’s decision to bring Jack Whatmough back into the side did suggest a 3-5-2 formation.

When talking to people ahead of the game the consensus was it would be a three-man central defence, but watching the pre-match warm up and the fact Christian Burgess and Matt Clarke, as is tradition, did a lot of ball work together whereas Whatmough was working with Dion Donohue left me thinking we might actually deploy Jack in a defensive midfield role.

As it was we did go with it and Jackett, despite defeat at Fratton Park, obviously a third in a row, feels the signs were positive enough to suggest we could, if not should, retain that formation going forward.

He told the News: ‘At the right time, playing three at the back is something, if possible, I would like to be able to do. With everybody fit and available, it could open up three at the back, which is something I feel can be successful in this division. If you look at Bristol City and Sheffield United, there are some sides which have played it very effectively.’

Adding: ‘You need all your components for any system to work – particularly for that one. And we have a lot of the components. You need three good central defenders, while if we can get to three midfielders we can outnumber the opposition, and there is also a front two. In addition, it’s very important to have athletic wing-backs.’

I personally like this system, obviously with the right personnel of course, which is something Jackett himself feels is more important than formations itself.

Jackett said: ‘There is a little bit of a hang-up on systems. It is about balance of players. Players complementing players is more important than what system you play. You can try to fit the wrong ones into the right system – and it won’t work.’

Personnel? I thought Donohue did well enough and I liked the look of Connor Ronan, who always wanted the ball and looked as if he could make something happen, putting in his best performance for Pompey – certainly what I’ve seen. I do think Ben Close has come on this season but I think we again saw he isn’t ready to be the lynchpin and focal point in midfield. Again, he’s come on, but certainly looked better with an experienced player alongside him taking the pressure off.

The wingbacks were a bit disappointing I’d say. On-loan Spurs fullback Anton Walkes looks well suited for this but didn’t really get going as such. Sylvain Deslandes doesn’t – in my opinion – look like he’s comfortable getting forward.

You sensed Kal Naismith and Jamal Lowe could work as a pairing, Lowe’s had huge success in the past playing off a partner. I reckon if Brett Pitman does return to the starting XI at Oldham then Lowe off the captain – assuming Clarke doesn’t keep the armband? – could do well.

Brandon Haunstrup would certainly be my left wingback and when Nathan Thompson is suspension free – I think he has one more game? – he would do well as the right wingback, so all in all this is a system, formation, call it what you will, I think has legs and could be successful for the Blues in the long-term, especially when there’s an abundance of fit options for Jackett to select from.


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2017-18 Prediction League – March
Oldham (a) Saturday 17th March 2018 – click here.
Oxford (h) Sunday 25th March 2018 – click here.
Walsall (a) Saturday 31st March 2018 – click here.

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3 Replies to “Play it again? Well, we could do”

  • He worries me, trying to play a system without having the right players in the side is a recipe for disaster, his constant changing of systems, personel and tatics tells me he still doesn’t know what or how he wants to play. He is the complete oppersite of Paul Cook who knew what system he wanted to play brought in the right players and rarely changed the side or the system, and certainly did not criticise the players as Jackett constantly doe’s. He shows no fight or passion he’s far to comfortable going through the motions, he is certainly not the right fit for Pompey. If he remains here next season and performs the same as he has done I can only see us fighting to remain in this league, wasting the procress we made last year. Maybe when next years season tickets go on sell and they are 2 or 3 thounsand down the owners might take some notice.

  • That, playing a system without recognised players in the role, opening admitting as much, also worries me Chris. This MUST be addressed in the summer as do other failings Jackett has been seen to show.

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