LEAM RICHARDSON played down the formation factor as an issue in Pompey’s run-in.
The Blues’ assistant manager admitted Paul Cook’s side will continue to change shape over the final 15 games of the season as they look to find a way to win.
But Richardson stressed the importance of not over-complicating the message to the players as they aim to seal promotion.
Cook switched up his formation in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Barnet as they aimed to deal with a difficult playing surface.
Pompey reverted to a 4-4-2 system and a more direct approach in the second half at The Hive as they changed tack.
That followed on from going to a 3-5-2 in the latter stages of last week’s win over Blackpool after lining up in a 4-2-3-1.
Richardson feels too much can be made of the way teams set up, and it’s just about getting the job done.
He said: ‘We’ve said loads of times people over-elaborate and overemphasise formations. If you’re going to play one be good at it.
‘You can play 4-4-2 until it comes out of our ears. You will still get a portion who’d want 4-3-3 or 3-5-2.
‘In any game there’s a given time to play a certain style or certain brand of football. There’s a way to win.
‘You saw our end formation against Blackpool. It was like a 3-5-2 or 5-3-2.
‘We were trying to catch them on the break, and luckily we did by changing.
‘There’s no criticism. It’s constructive. People want to see more goal action.
‘They want to see two strikers on the pitch because they think that’s where the money is. But it’s also about stopping the opposition’s strengths as well.
‘These days there are very few people around the country, or around the world in fact, who play 4-4-2, if I’m honest.’
Richardson has seen plenty of teams chopping and changing their approach to games this season.
He feels that can be a dangerous thing to do if the messages become mixed.
‘People change. I watched Leyton Orient v Morecambe the other day. Leyton Orient changed formation twice and Morecambe changed three times within the game,’ said Richardson.
‘There were five formations. Are you telling me those players know those five formations thoroughly. I don’t think the do. So try to be good at one of them. Try to master one of them.
‘Sometimes people just try to throw it up in the air and see if it works.
‘Just try to be good at one of them.’
Much has been made of Cook sticking to his principles and his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation this season. Criticism has come from some fans who’ve questioned how attacking that approach is.
Richardson felt the reply to that came against Blackpool last week.
He said: ‘For the first goal They were all inside the 18-yard box. It’s pleasing.
‘Against Blackpool, one full-back crossed it and one full-back scored. If you pause it there are a lot of lads in there.
‘We’re trying to build off a solid base. We’re trying not to concede too many.
‘There are two goals on the pitch. We have to be good in front of at least one.
‘If you can be top class in front of two you’ve cracked it.’