New Era, Yet Eerily Familiar

Andrew Stillwell looks ahead to the new season and considers how Kenny Jackett will set his team up. 

In what seems a long time ago, when in fact it was just May. Pompey beat Cheltenham 6-1 and with results going our way the League Two title came into ours hands for the first time and Paul Cooks for the second time in four years.

A party on Southsea common the following day with fans, players and staff seemingly all pulling in the same direction for the first time since 2008.

The next few days saw a declaration from the manager that he loves the club and will only leave when he is not wanted.

With Michael Eisners Tornante Group starting to turn the wheels for a successful takeover, the one thing Pompey have lacked in the last forty or so years which is so essential for the growth of a football club was finally going to happen.


In the space of a week Pompey went from having a clear roadmap of what was needed and required to needed to start again from stratch.

The whispers that Cook wanted to go started just as he declared his intention to stay, Pompey fans should have remembered this tactic from our previous manager Harry Redknapp who did one thing and said another.

Cook like Redknapp will be remembered not for the team they built and the football they played but for the way they treated the club. However, that is now in the past and Pompey must look to the future.


As we see above, with nearly 1,200 games between them they have identical points per game records which is a remarkable coincidence.

This leaves Kenny Jackett in a bit of a quandary, does he continue Paul Cook’s system as the saying goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Or does he stick to his beliefs and football philosophies?

He has a tough choice to make, which is the same choice Antonio Conte had to make at a much higher level with Chelsea last year. 4-3-3 or 3-4-3.

I think the choice is clear, Jackett must be his own man and set the team up as he would. That choice is 4-4-2 which to most Pompey fans will be a very popular choice.


So, the Kenny Jackett 4-4-2.

GK and Defence

Whilst both full-backs will have license to attack as they did under Cook, the likely scenario is that Holmes-Dennis will provide the width on the left and Evans will provide the width on the right. This then allows the defence to have 4 players set up defensively which allows us to have 6 in the attack.


How will we attack?

Paul Cook’s teams controlled the ball and therefore controlled the pace of the game, for some this was too slow, however it was instrumental in the success his team had at the club.

Under Jackett there will be a far more direct approach with the ball going forward far quicker and more direct.

However, for this style to be effective we need something different to what we have in the squad. If the ball is going to be more direct then we need a player or players where the ball will stick up front or provide flick ons for their strike partner.

We currently have no outstanding candidate to provide that outlet, yes Kal Naismith can do a good job in the air but we really want the ball at his feet.

Nicke Kabamba could possibly do the job but is still very green in his professional career.

With the ball going forward quicker, the other midfielders are encouraged to press very high up the field to capitalise on mistakes by the opposition and get the ball in the box as quick as possible. Another reason someone very good aerially is required.

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Photo: Official PFC

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