The Kenny Jackett 4-4-2 tactical switch that reaped Portsmouth rewards at Rochdale
Kenny Jackett’s tactical switch has been lauded as a key factory in the Rochdale away-day success.
The Pompey boss opted to switch from his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation at half-time at Spotland in favour of a 4-4-2 with John Marquis partnering Ellis Harrison in attack.
It’s a sight Blues fans have been craving this season and, after a first half in which Rochdale enjoyed plenty of territory and possession, the move had an impact on the game’s dynamic.
Jackett’s intention was to negate the threat of the home side’s ball-playing defenders who had plenty of joy in the first half.
And assistant manager, Joe Gallen, saluted the foresight of the Pompey boss in being able to recognise the issue and react accordingly.
Gallen said: ‘The manager changed it tactically at half-time.
‘It wasn’t a massive change but we pushed John on up the left up front.
‘What that did was push their centre-halves back a little bit.
‘In the first half either centre-half seemed to be in our box with the ball.
‘So having two up against them was the way we went, even if that meant we conceded a little bit in midfield,
‘I think there should be some credit (for Jackett).
‘I wouldn’t call it a drastic one but we were playing 4-2-3-1 and towards the end it was towards a 4-4-2.
‘Anyway it was a change which worked, made us more solid and allowed us to intercept and break with more quality.
‘That’s what we did and we could’ve scored more goals on the break.’
Rochdale’s approach under Brian Barry-Murphy had won them plenty of friends and admirers this season as they play a game which is easy on the eye.
Despite having a number of injuries and having to turn to home-grown youngsters, it’s a philosophy they maintained for Pompey’s visit.
In an opening 45 minutes the home side played some expansive stuff as they dominated possession and moved the ball around fluidly.
They found a Pompey side in resolute mood, however, as they kept their clear sights of goal to a minimum.
Gallen felt they gave his side problems, but the endeavour shown by the Blues is mandatory if their improved form is to continue.
He added: ‘It was quite offensive way they played.
‘Maybe when teams play against us it’s a slightly free hit.
‘Teams raise their games for us in this division.
‘We’re a big scalp and it’s something we have to cope with.
‘We’ve spoken about the attitude levels and the fitness levels needing to be high in order for us to get results. Very high.
‘The most important thing was the work-rate, the attitude and the running.
‘It’s the team spirit and things off the ball. It’s all those things we want and we have seen that in recent weeks.’