Pompey's investment to continue their charge up the leagues

The News' Will Rooney was invited down to Pompey's training base to test out their new GPS system that tracks fitness levels and helps with injury rehabilitation and prevention.

Saturday, 6th January 2018, 9:00 am
Updated Saturday, 6th January 2018, 10:47 am
The News' Will Rooney, right, with, from left, Pompey's Ben Spong, Jeff Lewis and Bobby Bacic, plus Express FM's Niall McCaughan Picture: Malcolm Wells

Here’s his take on the gold-standard technology that will benefit the Blues long into the future.

Pompey have made a significant investment to help continue their charge up the Football League.

The Blues have purchased 25 Global Positioning System (GPS) trackers that record fitness levels and contribute to injury prevention and rehabilitation.

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Bobby Bacic

Manchester United and Juventus are just two footballing powerhouses that use the same equipment, which is made by Northern Irish company STATSports.

Bobby Bacic revealed club owners Tornante quickly approved the purchase of the industry gold-standard technology.

The club’s head physio believes the GPS systems brings Pompey on to a level playing field with the rest of the teams in League One.

And Bacic, who joined Fratton Park at the start of the season from Millwall, insists the purchase will benefit the club in the long term.

The News' Will Rooney, second right, with, from left, Pompey's Jeff Lewis and Bobby Bacic, plus Express FM's Niall McCaughan and BBC's Andy Moon. Picture: Malcolm Wells

Speaking after we tested out the equipment, he said: ‘When I came in and spoke to the current staff we thought GPS would be really useful.

‘We talked about the wish lists we had to Kenny and then took them into Mark Catlin, Tony Brown and our American owners and it was quickly authorised – they pushed the button very quickly.

‘It’s a significant investment for our club. That’s the word to describe it as - an investment.

‘We’re hoping to get returns from it.

Bobby Bacic

‘Fans maybe want the sexy stuff like transfers but if you don’t get the infrastructure right then it crumbles pretty quickly.

‘Talking to people, perhaps the club in the past didn’t invest as well as we should have done.

‘But this is all part of it and a legacy as well.

‘It’s all building blocks for the club and it’s a long-term investment which benefits Portsmouth Football Club.

The News' Will Rooney, second right, with, from left, Pompey's Jeff Lewis and Bobby Bacic, plus Express FM's Niall McCaughan and BBC's Andy Moon. Picture: Malcolm Wells

‘There’s lots of technology that isn’t relevant. However, this is tried and tested over the years and relevant to us.

‘All the League One clubs use GPS, but I’m not sure how many have purchased them.

‘We’re new to this league so we need to raise our standards. It’s not a case of keeping up with the Joneses.

‘You’ve got to get the bread and butter right, the foundations correct and this is one of those tools in the modern game. We’ve gone industry gold standard and got the best equipment.

‘Manchester United and Juventus use the same so we’ve gone high end which we’re very grateful for.’

The systems are donned by the Blues players in each match and training session.

They collect data on factors such as distance covered, number of sprints, acceleration, deceleration and speed.

The numbers are then crunched by Bacic, physio Jack Hughes, head of sports science Jeff Lewis and strength and conditioning coach Ben Spong on a daily basis, with the data fed back to individual players.

Not only does the technology ensure standards are kept as high as possible, but it also contributes to injury prevention and rehabilitation.

Bacic said: ‘It will help someone like Jack Whatmough get up to speed when he gets back to full fitness.

‘We’re not saying the technology will win you an extra three or six points but what it will do is help us get the long-term injured players back into the routine, create an element in the squad and making sure we keep condition up.

‘From an injury prevention point of view, if you overtrain there’s a chance of getting injured.

‘But if you undertrain there’s also a chance of picking up a setback when perhaps the lads aren’t getting exposed in games or coming back from injuries.

‘It’s more a case of subtle improvements along the way. It ensures you keep your levels up all the time.

‘For example, a few of the lads who didn’t play one game were open to doing some extra running.

‘When we strung the data they realised they needed to top their fitness levels up slightly and that was a team effort.’

Bacic also saluted how the Pompey dressing room have enthusiastically got on board with the technology.

‘When I present the sheets they see all the data and it sets a standard and a marker,’ the Blues’ head physio added.

‘We’ve been pleasantly surprised how the lads have taken to it. It’s about having that high standard across the board. A few asked about it and they know it can help their career and development.’

‘It’s not like a big and little brother thing because there’s no hiding place and the manager will still pick up on things in training

‘The technology is only as good as the staff. The staff here are very good, however, so then it’s as good as the players who buy into it.’