Jackett: Why I favour playing 4-2-3-1 with Portsmouth

It’s a trusted playing system which reaped promotion at Millwall and then Wolves.

Thursday, 21st February 2019, 3:25 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st February 2019, 4:29 pm
Kenny Jackett retains faith in his trusted 4-2-3-1 system at Pompey. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South.

And Kenny Jackett retains unwavering belief that his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation can also yield Championship football with Pompey.

The Blues boss marks his 99th match in charge on Saturday, with promotion rivals Barnsley visiting Fratton Park.

Since his June 2017 arrival, Jackett, by his own admission, estimates his preferred system has been employed in 90 per cent of games.

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There remain a section of Pompey support keen to see the implementation of a 4-4-2, with the misfiring side presently without a League One win in seven.

Jackett acknowledges the benefits of such a system – but remains committed to a philosophy which earned play-off success with Millwall and a League One title at Wolves.

He said: ‘Generally, a lot of teams will play some form of 4-3-3.

‘Even if they play three at the back, it is a defender in front or one of the wing-backs. Most sides pick four defenders, three midfielders and three attackers.

‘I would say the 4-4-2 can be a successful formation, definitely, as successful as any.

‘Having two up front, in my experience, you need to narrow off the midfield. If you are going to play with real wide men and proper width it is tough to do so with two up front.

‘Sides that play it effectively can get all four overcrowded in the middle of the park and then maybe use the width of the full-backs. That’s how successful 4-4-2 teams work.

‘For myself, 4-2-3-1 has been successful, playing wingers is something I see as creating success, I think it’s exciting play.

‘It’s a good formation, it gives you a balance of all things, and that is what I prefer 90 per cent of the time.

‘Wolves was similar. It was 4-3-3 point up or point down, but in the main 4-2-3-1. Probably in the last four years at Millwall it was one off the front with a 4-2-3-1.

‘You need a general template to work out, but I wouldn’t say I’d never vary it. There are times when needs must.’

Jackett switched to 4-4-2 during the second half of Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers.

But he believes player development can be impacted by frequently changing systems.

He added: ‘You do need a little bit of flexibility, but if you are chopping and changing your system within each game every week it doesn’t allow the players to grow.

‘There’s a balance. Sometimes it can change at half-time and give you almost a short-term fix. At that time, you think it’s worth it.

‘But if you are working on something over a longer period, you want to coach the same thing over a two or three-year period because then you are giving players a better chance to improve and actually learn their trade, particularly younger players.’