I watched Pompey for the first time this season against Everton and they played well. Tim Howard was forced into a number of good saves and a few good chances were missed without the need of Howard’s intervention.
However, the team finds itself with the worst start to a Premiership season ever. Pointless after 7 games leads me to the conclusion that they could not have played that well in all other 6. So, does Paul Hart put the previous 6 down to the team finding its feet and continue as if the 7th was the way the team will go on to play. Or, does he think that having played well in the 7th game and taken no points requires a drastic change.
I would point to the latter because Everton were poor. If Everton had played well then I could see an argument for sticking with the team but Everton were as poor as Pompey were good.
It is clear that Pompey need to do something to make them somewhat of an enigma; difficult to beat but will have a chance of nicking a win if 0-0 in the 85th minute. Looking at the players at Paul Hart’s disposal then I think reverting the mid to late 90’s is the way to go – 3-5-2 – wing backs.
Both centre backs at the weekend are considered alongside Titus Bramble as the most culpable defenders of the Premier League. By playing three at the back there should be cover for each one and Pompey also have an overload of players in this position but not many full backs; Kabul, Ben Haim, Hreidarsson, Wilson, Vanden Borre.
In terms of wing backs, Belhadj and the aforementioned Vanden Borre provide the obvious options but Finnan can play on the right and O’Hara comfortably do a job on the left if needed.
Another position of quantity is the centre of midfield; Brown, O’Hara, Diop, Mullins, Hughes, Mokoena, Boateng and Basinas. Pack that with two work horses and allow a creative player to roam with freedom will work wonders.
Hart also has options with his strikers. The squad is not bad in terms of quality but it is unbalanced.
Playing a 3-5-2 will confuse so many other teams in and around Pompey, teams which they should take points off. If a 4-4-2 is played then the two opposing central defenders will be taken up with Pompey’s strikers and the deeper central midfielder will be occupied with the roaming midfield player.
The two strikers of the opposing side will have to deal with 3 centre backs, one will always be spare to take a winger or on coming central midfielder. However, often the central midfielder will be taken by the holding midfielder.
Using this system Pompey will lose against teams like Everton and the other ‘bigger’ sides because the wing play will be more sophisticated than Pompey could handle. However, against teams that they should take points from, Bolton, Birmingham, Hull, Fulham etc. this system will fox the managers and the squad is big enough to keep it fresh and unpredictable. Utaka or Boetang, for example.
Pompey might survive if they make this radical change. They won’t if they do nothing.