Wing-back system prompts familiar Pompey outcome

Pompey lost at Stevenage with a 3-5-2 system last season/ Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey lost at Stevenage with a 3-5-2 system last season/ Picture: Joe Pepler
Have your say

KENNY JACKETT re-employed the 3-5-2 system as he strived to collect a positive result over Rotherham.

Yet the outcome was familiarly disappointing as the alternative formation once again failed to inspire the Blues.

It was in March when the set-up was previously introduced by Pompey.

Paul Cook even braved ditching his cast-iron favourite 4-2-3-1 to accommodate the system switch at Stevenage.

That subsequently yielded the sole defeat in a glorious 12-match surge to the League Two title.

Granted, there’s currently an alternative manager at the helm, taking charge in a different league environment with other personnel.

Nonetheless, the 1-0 loss to a Millers team previously without victory in 26 away trips has cast further supporter mistrust on employing three at the back.

Not that the formation should be forever damned, yet clearly its operation hasn’t been too fruitful in recent times.

Back in March, Cook rolled out wing-backs for the time after 99 matches as Blues boss. In fairness, change for the Lamex Stadium trip was largely enforced, following injuries to in-form duo Kal Naismith and Kyle Bennett.

Tom Davies was recalled to partner Christian Burgess and Matt Clarke in the back three, while not unreasonably Gareth Evans and Enda Stevens were named wing-backs.

Michael Doyle, Carl Baker and Danny Rose were the midfield three, with Eoin Doyle and Noel Hunt in attack.

What unfolded was Darren Sarll’s side chalking up a 3-0 lead after 46 minutes to effectively complete victory.

A Pompey side rigidly drilled into the 4-2-3-1 looked uncomfortable and were dismantled by the hosts.

The response was the return of Naismith and Bennett for the next game against Newport County – along with the 4-2-3-1, yielding seven wins and a draw from the final eight fixtures.

So fast forward five-and-a-half months later, when Jackett hatched his 3-5-2 game plan to overpower Rotherham – only for Jon Taylor’s 36th minute strike to be the matchwinner amid a disappointing Blues showing.

Meanwhile, the system was ditched at half-time, rendering an improved display after the break.

It may still return, of course, but its effectiveness must surely hinge on the correct personnel.