Attacking formation is the one that counts for Appy

Pompey boss Michael Appleton. Picture: Robin Jones
Pompey boss Michael Appleton. Picture: Robin Jones
Wes Thomas scores for Oxford against Pompey earlier this season. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Formations have been to the fore at Pompey this week.

Michael Appleton made his first major tactical move as Blues boss by switching his system around against Leicester last weekend.

That meant a different role for David Norris, pictured right, as he was given a more attacking job against the Foxes.

It was a move which drew a mixed response from the home crowd, with there even being some chants of ‘4-4-2’ from the Fratton End in the second half.

That followed on from some frustration aimed at Steve Cotterill’s approach in his time at the club, which was seen as negative.

Appleton explained his thinking behind the shape he employed and its effectiveness. He believes focus should be afforded to the philosophy behind the team’s play more than formations.

Appleton said: ‘All I would say to the fans is to be patient enough to understand the reasons we are playing 4-4-1-1.

‘We created four times as many chances against Leicester as we did against Watford playing 4-4-2.

‘I’m not big on formations anyway. It’s more style of play.

‘If you are in possession or out of it, your formation changes all the time.

‘What we want to do is get some good football at this club and create a lot of opportunities.

‘I think we’ve done that and will add to that.

‘At times we will have one, two, three or four players up front.

‘As long as we have an understanding of how we play and how we will create chances, we will get those opportunities.’

Appleton revealed Pompey drew praise from Leicester last week for the quality of their display.

Foxes boss Nigel Pearson admitted he was frustrated by the way his fancied side were nullified by the Blues’ approach.

That gave Appleton optimism after a worrying opening game in charge against Watford.

Now the Blues boss wants to see the progress made continue against Coventry tomorrow.

Appleton said: ‘I’m glad that we made it difficult for Leicester to play through us.

‘I think that was the biggest compliment I got from Nigel Pearson when he said they couldn’t play through us, because of how bad it was against Watford.

‘They were surprised how well we played last weekend. They were shocked.

‘They couldn’t play through us, and that is going to be important going forward.

‘At times we didn’t use the width of the pitch and played down corridors.

‘Our full-backs are our outlets because they want the ball. We used them better last weekend and created chances.’