Danny Cowley's warning with Rotherham United, Ipswich Town and Bolton Wanderers on horizon as rivals switch on to Portsmouth's approach
Danny Cowley warned Pompey will need to operate with more intelligence to negate rivals who try to smother their football principles.
The Blues boss believes his players need to stay switched on to the methods of their opponents in stifling his team’s approach in their bid to deliver League One success.
Cowley is working tirelessly on laying down a very defined set of principles when it comes building a playing identity for his team this season.
Pompey fans have seen that develop since the 42-year-old’s arrival as Kenny Jackett’s successor in March.
There has been significant strides made in the patterns of play from Cowley’s men as they build from the back, while there has been a clear desire to win the ball back at source through a high-pressing game.
That was clearly showcased in the incessant approach which emphatically reaped success against Sunderland last weekend.
But Cowley noted how his men didn’t get it right last month against Cambridge United, and then saw Burton Albion change their game plan successfully to stifle his team last week.
That is something he feels his Pompey players need to be aware of moving forward.
Cowley said: ‘We want to play with energy and intensity. We want to do that in every game.
‘We were disappointed we didn’t get to those levels against Cambridge.
‘Then against Burton they didn’t give us an opportunity to get into our running.
‘We didn’t have one regain, they didn’t give us once chance to play.
‘They played four backward passes the whole game, everything was forward, forward, forward.
‘They kicked, we built, they pressed which is their best weapon.
‘We either lost it, 19 times in our half which is too many
‘We had to do more to get them off us than we did.’
Cowley noted his players tweaking their approach to combat rivals in the tactical battle may be necessary, as teams try to combat Pompey.
That was seen at the Pirelli Stadium, as Burton moved away from going down a more expansive route themselves this season, to being direct and pressing Pompey hard.
The challenge for Pompey players is being switched on enough to identify the issues and managing the game in their responses.
Cowley said: ‘If the full-backs keep jumping (like at Burton), you have to turn the ball down the side.
‘If we’d done that to (central defender) Michael Bostwick a few times, he then puts the reins on his full-back and all of a sudden instead of pressing with seven it’s only five.’
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