Paul Cook weighs up his Pompey tactical choice

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Paul Cook is playing his cards close to his chest on whether last week’s switch to 4-4-2 was a one-off.

The Pompey boss threw in a tactical curveball last weekend in the 0-0 draw with AFC Wimbledon, partnering Marc McNulty and Caolan Lavery in attack.

Marc McNulty. Picture: Joe Pepler

Marc McNulty. Picture: Joe Pepler

It was the first time he had moved away from his more familiar 4-2-3-1 system all season.

Although it’s rare that he has used a 4-4-2 during his management career, he did use it briefly at Chesterfield.

But with his side struggling to break down opponents at Fratton Park this season, it was perhaps understandable.

The record on the road, however, suggests that the 4-2-3-1 line-up is fine as it is.

Will we go with two up front again – we’ll have to wait and see won’t we?

Paul Cook

And it means Cook now faces a tricky dilemma on whether to go for the continuity of last weekend or stick with a tried-and-trusted method for the Carlisle trip.

He said: ‘Will we go with two up front again – we’ll have to wait and see won’t we?

‘The game last week doesn’t make me think I shouldn’t have done that.

‘I have to give McNulty and Lavery minutes and Kyle Bennett has gone through a little rough patch at home.

‘For the personnel we had available, I felt it was best.

‘But it’s all part of a learning curve.

‘Putting square pegs in square holes is the right thing to do.

‘I make those decisions because I believe it’s right.

‘I’m not trying to tell supporters “that’s the way it is and that’s that”.

‘In football, you can solve one problem but it creates another one.’

Cook prefers his sides to dominate possession but that has not been the case in the past two outings.

And he is still looking to find the right formula.

He said: ‘You’ve got to keep doing what you believe in.

‘I will certainly stick to the way I believe the game should be played.

‘We will tinker with it because we want to win as much as anybody.

‘But you’ve got to be careful not to stray too far from what you are good at.

‘The Macclesfield and Wimbledon games are probably the least we have had the ball. I like us to dominate the ball, dominate teams and win.

‘You can go from the Yeovil game where we dominated the game but couldn’t score to the Wimbledon game, where we didn’t dominate the match.

‘In my opinion, it was as poor a game as we have been involved in this season and there was no quality.

‘Then we come in on Monday and try to solve all of the problems. I don’t think we can do that.’