Gary Roberts: My views on Pompey system

The system doesn't concern Gary Roberts, the formation is not a source of frustration.

Friday, 26th August 2016, 10:00 am
Gary Roberts showed hes got to the strength to lead Pompey to victory after his double in the 2-0 victory over Colchester last Saturday Picture: Joe Pepler

Playing and winning, instead, dominate the mindset of Pompey’s talismanic midfielder.

Paul Cook lined up with a 4-2-3-1 system against Colchester last weekend, before switching to a diamond – with two up front.

There was also various other tinkering by the Blues boss in his attempt to eke out victory over the U’s at Fratton Park.

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Ultimately, it was Roberts who provided the inspiration, winning and then netting the penalty to break the deadlock, before grabbing a second in the 2-0 triumph.

Inevitably, the issue of formations remains a regular subject of debate among the Fratton faithful, with many advocating the tried-and-tested 4-4-2.

Cook’s men head to Exeter tomorrow with a 4-2-3-1 line-up likely to be utilised considering it is an away fixture.

But Roberts does not subscribe to the importance of formations in achieving success.

He said: ‘People are massively into formations and stuff but Colchester came to Fratton Park and dropped their main striker (Chris Porter).

‘When the opposition arrive determined for a goalless draw it is hard to break teams down.

‘I saw Ian Darke’s tweet last week that the 4-4-2 meant giving it up in the middle of the pitch and your dominance on the ball – and he’s right.

‘That is the gamble you take and the gaffer made it on Saturday, giving us the win.

‘Not many teams play with 4-4-2 any more and there is a reason for that. It makes it a more open game, which is good for the neutral, but we like to control the ball.

‘You can look into formations all you want and every fan worries about 4-4-2. Some are screaming for more strikers, each to their own.

‘But you want 11 players on the pitch to win a game. You have 11 v 11 and must beat them whichever way you can, it is all about the players.

‘Every team we have faced this season we have been better than them, and if we carry on we will go up. That’s how I look at it.’

A stuttering start to the season from the promotion favourites has prompted the dark clouds of doubt to gather over Pompey.

Michael Smith has already been jettisoned from the match-day 18 following disappointing performances and heavy criticism.

Then there’s Conor Chaplin – a popular figure who many fans would like to see included in the starting line-up.

Most of all, there are those losing faith in Cook’s favoured formation, which has yielded the League Two title, a League One play-off spot and a League Two play-off place in the previous three campaigns.

Roberts added: ‘I just like playing footy, it’s a game of footy.

‘At home the pitch is lovely, the ground is full, you can be asked to play any formation – but I am not bothered.

‘No strikers or 10 strikers – it doesn’t bother me.

I am on the pitch to work as hard as I can and try to affect the game.’