Gaffer: Blackburn Rovers new boy added something - but Portsmouth should raid Aston Villa or Manchester City for striker to fire us into play-offs

Gaffer for a day, Jeff Harris, gives his verdict on Pompey’s 0-0 AFC Wimbledon stalemate.

By Sam Cox
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 12:01 pm

Firstly, what were your thoughts on the game?

‘I said before the game it would be decided in the first 15 minutes depending on what Pompey team turn up. Is it going to be the team from the second 25 minutes of the first half against MK Dons? Or the team who showed up in the second half?

‘And I think we got the former. It just seems Cowley has changed his tactics slightly and I’ve noticed when we play teams who press high, we’re kind of bypassing the midfield and trying to play it directly up front, hold on to the ball, then build from that.

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‘After about 25 to 30 minutes, when the opposition start sitting off, we start playing it out of the back. If our strengths are playing it out of the back and building from there, and you have faith and trust in those principles, then why wouldn’t you do that from the off?’

Who was the standout performer at Plough Lane?

For me it was Hayden Carter. Out of the two debuts last night, he had the better. He looked calm and assured on the ball and showed good positional awareness.

‘Whenever Romeo, Raggett or Bazunu had the ball, he was always making a run to make the angle to receive the ball or dragging a player away from them to progress up the field.

Hayden Carter

‘When he was even on the ball, and was pressed, he showed awareness and a cuteness to be able to get out of a tricky situation. He made some great last-ditch tackles and was quick on the ball to get it down the wings.

‘He even went on a run himself about 15 minutes down the right, so for me, he was the standout player.’

What have you made of Tyler Walker’s signing?

‘There were elements to his game I thought were encouraging last night. It was quite a relief to see when the ball was played up to him it stuck to him once he found his groove. He was then able to link players in.

‘He’s obviously short on match minutes, and that was evident. But he made some intelligent runs and I think him and Hirst were swapping over up front and gave the defence a lot to think about.

‘It wasn’t the best of debuts, but he hadn’t trained with the team, met them just before kick-off and went straight in. With two or three days training ahead of the Sunderland game, he’ll start to build that awareness and knowledge base of what each player can and can’t do.

‘His colleagues will also learn where he wants to receive the ball and what type of player he is.’

What would you like to see before the end of the transfer window

‘I do think we need another striker. We need to be more mobile in the final third, whether you put Harness next to Walker up top and play someone like Jacobs in-behind to play those through balls.

‘If we can get someone like either Cameron Archer or Liam Delap from Premier League under-23 level whose been scoring goals regularly and is a natural finisher, who’ll come into this side and pick up eight to 10 goals between now and the end of the season, then we stand a chance of just creeping into the play-offs.

‘I think a left-wing back is needed. As much as I like Reeco Hackett, I think he’s great going forward and he’s a raw talent, yes, but I don’t think he’s a left- back and that was exposed against MK Dons.

‘I was quite pleased Nesta Guiness-Walker hadn’t started last night because I thought he’d have caused us problems down our right, but that’s the kind of player we need. I know he was rumoured before it was shot down.

‘But someone of that age and ability, who has a good engine going up and down. I would love to see someone like that come into the team.’

Ratings

Gavin Bazunu – 7

Hayden Carter – 9

Sean Raggett – 8

Connor Ogilvie – 8

Mahlon Romeo – 6

Lee Brown – 6

Louis Thompson – 5

Joe Morrell – 6

Marcus Harness – 5

George Hirst – 5

Tyler Walker – 6

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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