It ain’t pretty but it looks as though Kenny Jackett has gone back to basics, both in tactics and selection in a bid to re-form the Pompey side for a realistic promotion bid this season.
The recruitment of a raft of midfielders – making a total of eight at his disposal – Close, Rose, May, Dennis, Naylor, Evans, Donohue and latterly Ben Thompson – gives him plenty of options but more importantly some steel in that department.
Of those, on Saturday’s evidence Thompson adds some much-needed creativity and flair in addition.
Tactics-wise, by Assistant Manager Gallen’s admittance in The News last week, the long ball deep into the opposition’s half, derived from McGillivray’s excellent kick-outs, to find the head of Hawkins for a knock-down to the likes of Curtis or Lowe close to or just inside the penalty area is going to be a regular occurrence.
After its successful employment in the win at Blackpool setting up goals for Curtis it was not surprising to see it prevalent in Saturday’s win against Oxford.
Despite the long-ball tactic, it was somewhat ironic that from the four goals on Saturday v. Oxford, three appeared to come from excellent wing-play from Lowe using his pace and finishing to good effect.
However with the commitment to the long-ball, it brings Pitman’s future into question clearly although one imagines he might have an occasional role as an impact player going on when we are struggling for a goal in the last phases of a games where Hawkins’ efforts are in vain. Whether he would be happy to accept that role remains to be seen.
It will be interesting to see whether Jackett’s apparent new style of play will be accepted by the fans. One suspects that it will depend on what it brings in the way of results – the ultimate barometer.
The mind goes back to the attitude of some critical Pompey fans to Paul Cook’s possession football with the accent on passing out from the back and careful deliberate build-ups.
Who can forget that Gary Roberts goal v. Bournemouth in the FA Cup at Fratton Park – the climax to a 48-pass movement over two and a half minutes which drew admiration from football pundits and fans alike nationally.