Why Portsmouth are closing in on winning formula

Pompey celebrate their 4-1 win over Oxford. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey celebrate their 4-1 win over Oxford. Picture: Joe Pepler
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JOE GALLEN is adamant Pompey aren’t just long-ball merchants.

But the Blues assistant manager is also aware his team are not tika-taka purists either.

Gallen told how his team are searching for a blend of styles which delivers a brand of football that equates to League One success.

And after a start to the campaign which has seen Pompey look for the fusion between defence and attack, Gallen feels they are closing in on getting the right formula.

Early-season questions were asked over whether Kenny Jackett’s men were too defensive in their approach and possessed attacking quality.

The answer came in emphatic fashion last weekend as Oxford were dispatched 4-1.

They also were unlucky not to score in the second half at Doncaster yesterday. 

Gallen knows a winning equation is ultimately what Pompey are looking for.

He said: ‘We work on it a lot and we do want to have a balance.

‘We don’t want to have a total technical way of playing, but we also equally don’t want to be a totally back to front team. I’ve always said we want a bit of both ways.

‘We’ve got players who can deal with long passes and short ones. We want both.

‘There were times against Oxford when it was short and quick.

‘Most fans would want to see that every time and it’s not to say we wouldn’t.

‘But the nature of the division and the one above is there’s such a lot of pressure put on to the ball.

‘Once there is a lot of pressure put on to the ball and pressure on the back four when they are in possession, there are times when the player has to feel if they lose it then the opposition will have a one v one with the keeper.

‘So they will knock it forwards and that happens all the time.’

When playing a long ball under pressure Gallen is aware a striking presence increases in importance, but Pompey work to have both long and short options.

‘What we want if that happens is some presence up front where we can get the ball and start our football that way,’ he said.

‘Whichever way it is, it’s whatever’s the best way at the time. That’s what we say.

‘We never say to the players what they should do. It’s their decision.

‘But the manager sets the team up to have a long pass, which means there’s probably someone running in behind and there’s a short option as well.

‘The player then has to make his mind up.

‘That’s what Kenny’s always done.

‘It’s a bit of both ways, but there are times when it just looks one way or the other. We want to do it both.’

Gallen knows the weather is going to play a part in Pompey finding a winning formula in the coming months.

The assistant boss added: ‘Winter comes into play in the next few months and the pitches will deteriorate. You have to find a way to win.

‘Sometimes it’s tough away from home and not nice weather on a poor pitch.

‘We will still try to find a way to win and it may be on that day it’s a little bit longer and set-pieces come into it. Against Oxford the pitch is lovely, the sun is shining and we outplayed them. It’s fine either way if we win.’