Familiarity breeds better performances for Pompey and their unchanged side

he Pompey players celebrate David Connolly's goal in the 1-1 draw with MK Dons at Fratton Park on February 26 ' the first of five games which have seen caretaker boss Guy Whittingham named an unchanged side
he Pompey players celebrate David Connolly's goal in the 1-1 draw with MK Dons at Fratton Park on February 26 ' the first of five games which have seen caretaker boss Guy Whittingham named an unchanged side
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett Picture: Joe Pepler

Jackett’s Pompey attacking concern

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It is the most consistently-selected Pompey side for almost 20 years.

The same starting line-up has now been in place for the Blues’ past five matches.

What’s more, heading into Coventry’s visit to Fratton Park on Saturday, Guy Whittingham believes those players have fully justified his continued faith.

Not since April 10 to May 8, 1993, have the Blues fielded the same team for five consecutive matches.

On that occasion, Jim Smith stuck with the identical starting XI for six matches on their way to the division one play-offs.

Whittingham was among that side, along with current Blues coaches Alan Knight, Andy Awford and Alan McLoughlin.

Other ever-presents were Kit Symons, Warren Neill, Mark Chamberlain, Paul Walsh, Ray Daniel, Guy Butters and Bjorn Kristensen.

Of those six fixtures, Pompey won five in a late surge which took them into third spot.

Suspensions for Butters and Walsh ensured the line-up changed for the two-legged play-off semi-final with Leicester – and Smith’s side lost.

Back to the present, and Whittingham has discovered his preferred line-up – an unaltered side which has picked up two wins and two draws in five matches.

Finally, in a season during which 51 different players have been used, there is consistency.

Whittingham said: ‘In the realms of the Premier League, there are 20-25 good players and managers can change things around.

‘But in terms of other leagues, it’s fair to say stable sides are the ones which achieve success.

‘Good performances are what makes a consistently-selected side, but you could argue a consistently-selected side is what makes good performances.

‘If you can get consistency in the team and the way the players approach matches then you have every chance of keeping the same team going and getting results.

‘Even if you look at it regardless of results, at Leyton Orient we played ever so well and the same players deserved to be starting the next game.

‘During our bad run we were tweaking and trying to find the best combination.

‘Now the lads are playing well enough to keep their place under threat of others coming in.

‘Take Yassin Moutaouakil and Jed Wallace down the right-hand side. They are working together as a team for you, they have learned how to play together.

‘Through the middle is the core of the side and we have Johnny Ertl and Therry Racon who have a good understanding now.

‘Up front, Patrick Agyemang and David Connolly played alongside each other at Wimbledon and have rekindled that here.

‘The fact nobody has picked up a bad enough knock to keep them out of the team also helps with the selection, of course.

‘But we have a system the players are comfortable in – the right players are in the right positions.

‘When we knew where we stood with players going in January, we targeted those who could play in that 4-4-2 system.

‘It is also flexible, though.

‘We changed it to a back three when losing at Leyton Orient and it didn’t come off.

‘We tried it at Doncaster when losing and five minutes later we scored a goal.’