Northstand Nostalgia: Pompey must be more messy and less Messi

Another defeat, another false dawn.

Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 1:00 pm
John Akinde. Picture: Joe Pepler

The knives are out for Paul Cook and I’ve barely made a start on my advent calendar.

The loss to Stevenage was our seventh against League Two opposition this season.

I for one, though, am not about to join the clamour for the removal of our Liverpudlian gaffer, just yet!

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Few true fans want to see their manager sacked – unless form is very poor, then the ‘old tin tack’ becomes inevitable.

Most Pompey fans will be willing Cookie to turn it around and see the club secure promotion – or possibly even the title – come May.

However, is there enough evidence for us to believe our manager has really learnt anything during this continual unproductive home form that has been the hallmark of his tenure?

The view of many professionals is that because the punter has not played at league level, his opinion in most cases is little more than worthless.

In my ignorant state, following the Blues up and down the division for half a century, I have gleaned the following:

n The Premier League is full of skilled, disciplined, motivated, committed, athletic and fit professional footballers.

n These skill sets lessen considerably, the lower your descent down the footballing pyramid.

n In League Two, nearly all the players are lacking in at least one of those aforementioned departments.

That is why the managers of League Two clubs have the hardest task of all their managerial contemporises.

In the Premier League, the gaffer will have a squad full of internationals.

All highly-competent, effective and with no shortage of footballing intellect.

Top-flight management is less about tactics and more about egos, as the boss will be forced to exclude a plethora of superstars from his starting line-up without upsetting the absent and disengaging them from the greater good of the whole.

Meanwhile, back in the real world of League Two, tactics are everything because limited ability encourages a more basic style.

In my view, Sunday league football is closer in comparison to League Two than the fourth tier is to the Premier League.

And this almost qualifies me as an expert.

Last season, Northampton romped to the title with a great all-for-one ethos.

At present, Pompey have most of League Two’s big hitters at their disposal, yet remain a distance from being considered a good team.

League Two is about percentages, it’s about keeping it simple, about playing the ball early and keeping it away from your goal and away from the dodgy back five, who are trying to defend it.

We have, at present, a keeper who only saves the ball if it hits him, two uncommanding centre-backs and two hapless full-backs intent on giving away needless free-kicks we are unequipped to defend.

We need to show more of the ‘have it’ style employed by our own Peter Kay aka Tom Davies, if we are to master this division.

In short, we have to be a little more messy, rather than trying to be too Messi.

I would like to see Pompey sign Barnet’s John Akinde to play alongside Conor Chaplin in a 4-4-2 formation.

Akinde would bludgeon space for Conor, who really should by now be the main fulcrum of the side, to exploit and replace the ageing Gary Roberts.

A regular contributor to the Football Mail’s letters page many moons ago, the Northstand Critic has got back in touch and now writes a column in the Sports Mail, which is in shops every Sunday.