Barker: My attacking beliefs have to take back seat

Pompey boss Richie Barker Picture; Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Richie Barker Picture; Joe Pepler
Pompey's Brett Pitman celebrates after scoring his second goal in their 2-0 win at Oldham. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South

Oldham 0 Pompey 2: they said what?

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RICHIE BARKER revealed he is sacrificing his footballing principles to keep Pompey in the Football League.

But the Blues boss promised supporters he will bring an attacking brand of play back to their side when they have secured their League Two safety.

Barker explained he feared continuing with a forward-thinking policy after his arrival in December would condemn his side to relegation.

Three 0-0 draws on the bounce has put the 38-year-old’s style of football under the microscope, as Pompey go to Fleetwood tomorrow.

Barker promised his way is to play on the front foot – and his time as a manager underlines that.

The boss admitted: ‘I’m a bit disappointed I’ve had to sacrifice my principles. My principles at my two previous clubs were open, expansive football.

‘I was about creating lots of chances, scoring goals and accepting, at some point, we weren’t going to keep loads of clean sheets.

‘I remember being asked early on here, is the way we were playing the way I go about things?

‘No it isn’t and it isn’t the way I enjoy things.

‘In my first 120 games as a manager, there were four 0-0s. I actually took a lot of pride in that fact.

‘But it’s changed here and gone a little bit different because of what we needed to do and, partially, the hand we’ve been dealt.

‘When I was at Crawley we got rave reviews for the football we played. We got beat at Wolves 2-1 having passed them off the park. For us to lose 2-1 there wasn’t that bad.

‘We got loads of plaudits for it but no points. The football was excellent but people were coming away saying: “That’s not going to work because you won’t get many points”.

‘I recognise there has to be a balance but I tried to play expansive football when I came – and recognised very quickly that wasn’t going to help us, unfortunately.’

Pompey now face three away games in the next four.

Hitting the 52-point mark he feels will keep Pompey in the league remains Barker’s focus. He is then intending to let the shackles off his team building into next season.

He said: ‘Firstly, we have to ensure the people buying season tickets next season are watching League Two football.

‘That’s what we need to do first and we haven’t totally secured that yet. By hook or by crook, we need to do that.

‘What I will say, is, with a pre-season under our belt and a few changes, hopefully we’ll see attacking football.

‘I know it’s been stated about our shape.

‘We played with two wingers and two forwards on Tuesday night, so I don’t think we can talk about negative tactics or negative shapes.

‘We are putting attacking players out there.

‘But I will start to preach attacking play when we have done what we need to do.’