Gaffer: Strange Portsmouth team selection didn’t work

Gaffer for a Day, Matt Wheatley, aged 41 from Didcot, Oxfordshire, analyses Pompey’s 2-1 loss at Oxford United.

Sunday, 20th January 2019, 3:00 pm
Updated Monday, 11th November 2019, 11:27 am
Gaffer for a Day Matt Wheatley is critical after successive Pompey defeats. Picture: Joe Pepler

What can you say about that?

Oxford looked there for the taking in the first 20 minutes, their defence were shaky but we didn't test them enough.

Our long balls pumped into their half were dealt with quite comfortably. I guess we tried to compensate for our midfield crisis at the moment by bypassing it altogether and hoofing it down the wings. It's so frustrating to watch sometimes.

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We conceded a goal and that put the wind in the sails of the home side. However, we were pretty dire again throughout, especially in the first half.

We improved in the second half slightly, but it helped that Oxford sat much deeper, allowing us to come onto them.

Is there a man of the match?

Brett Pitman came on and gave us more of a threat up front and scored a great goal.

The whole team were pretty mediocre so I'll hand the man of the match to him, purely because of his goal and the bit of urgency he gave us.

Andy Cannon, on his full debut, gave away possession a few times but is quite a tidy player, not too bad. The overall team performance, though, meant he didn't stand out.

Apart from Pitman, nobody stood out. It was a day to forget – and one we need to move on from quickly.

What did you make of the Jamal Lowe experiment?

Lowe isn't a centre-forward, he's much better on the wing. It was a strange formation played by Kenny Jackett and didn't work.

When I saw the teamsheet I thought Ronan Curtis would have been the lone striker. I said beforehand that, with Oli Hawkins out, Pitman was nailed-on to start. Obviously not!

Even the Pompey fans were calling for Pitman to come on from about 30 minutes because they could see the system wasn't working.

I felt a bit sorry for David Wheeler, being asked to chase aimless punts upfield, but he was definitely anonymous.

Any doubts over promotion?

I overheard some Oxford fans afterwards questioning how we're top of the league – and after watching that you'd have to agree.

The recent performances and lack of chances is a real cause for concern and there is absolutely no chance of Ben Thompson returning after starting for Millwall on Saturday.

However, it's fortunate that it has come during a transfer window, which means we may be able to bring some players in to improve our situation. Here's hoping!

Craig MacGillivray 7

Lee Brown 6

Jack Whatmough 6

Matt Clarke 6

Anton Walkes 5

Tom Naylor 6

Andy Cannon 6

Jamal Lowe 6

Gareth Evans 6

Ronan Curtis 6

David Wheeler 5