How Pompey’s boss has helped defender mature

Kenny Jackett and Jack Whatmough. Picture: Joe Pepler
Kenny Jackett and Jack Whatmough. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Jack Whatmough lifted the lid on how Kenny Jackett has helped him grow as a player – both on and off the pitch.

The Gosport talent revealed how the Pompey boss has made him more mature as a person, as well as drilling into him the importance of winning his indiviudal battles during matches.

Yesterday marked Jackett’s first anniversary as boss after succeeding Paul Cook in the Fratton Park hotseat.

The 56-year-old guided the Blues to an eighth-place finish in League One in his maiden season in charge.

Whatmough featured 16 times under Jackett – although a knee injury picked up in September sidelined the defender for more than six months.

When the 21-year-old did return to action in March, he was handed a nine-game run in Pompey’s team.

However, a groin setback he picked up in the 1-0 defeat to Charlton curtailed his campaign with two games remaining.

Although he didn’t feature as much as he’d have liked to under Jackett, the manager still had a significant impact on Whatmough developing off the field.

The academy product believes that’s because of his boss’ outlook on the game.

Whatmough said: ‘He’s had a massive inpact on me as a person to mature.

‘He’s a very professional man and that’s matured me as a person. At certain times I’ve gone to have a laugh when I shouldn’t and that’s made me grow up a bit more.

‘Whether that’s me growing up with age or not I don’t know – I doubt it.

‘His ways on football are different to other managers I’ve had. It’s just football, football, football which is good. In even pre-season it’s all football-based. You know that he’s football mad.

‘As a player, for your manager to be like that is enjoyable.’

When Whatmough returned to full fitness in March, he started in a three-man defence alongside Matt Clarke and Christian Burgess in a 3-1 loss to Gillingham.

When Jackett reverted to a back four at Oldham the following week, it was Burgess who was dropped to the bench.

Whatmough only lost his starting spot because a groin complaint prematurely ended his campaign.

During the past year, the centre-back has enjoyed working Jackett.

And, although it was a trait he already had, ensuring he won his personal duels has been something driven into him.

‘Things are very tactical and you stick to a way of what you get taught,’ added Whatmough.

‘On the ball, I’ve become a bit more relaxed – that’s how I feel.

‘I also feel that my defending has definitely picked up.

‘Winning my battles is something I’ve always had – I’ve always won my battles.

‘But last season I felt like it was drilled in that it’s so important to win my battles.

‘That’s been drilled into me a little bit and made me want to make sure that I’m not the one to let people down.’