Portsmouth's high-octane system keeping Brett Pitman out line-up - but should it really matter?

Pompey’s attacking riches have forced Brett Pitman to settle for a bit-part role so far this season.

Tuesday, 10th September 2019, 4:30 pm
Brett Pitman has yet to start a game for Pompey this season. Picture: Joe Pepler

In the opening eight matches, the forward has failed to feature from the outset and been an unused substitute on three occasions.

And despite coming off the bench to score the winner against Crawley last week, assistant-manager Joe Gallen’s unable to pinpoint a definitive period for his return.

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Although he ended last term with six goals in 12 matches when finally given a sustained run in starting line-up, Pitman’s again fallen down the pecking order.

He’s been unable to force his way into Kenny Jackett's first XI, either in the number nine or number-10 role.

There’s no denying Pitman’s quality or class.

But those selected ahead of him suggest they’re in the team as they're more capable of meeting Jackett’s high-octane demands.

It’s the role playing off the striker that Pitman regards as his best and is bullish he can plunder more goals from there.

Harrying and pressing are just as crucial, as well as being able to explode on the counter-attack. 

In fairness to Pitman, he upped his running last season, although his stats still weren't quite as high as his fellow forwards. 

It’s been Andy Cannon and Gareth Evans who have shared the role for the majority of this term to date.

Cannon’s proved to be a nuisance out of possession, while his low centre of gravity is an attribute no-one else can offer.

Evans, meanwhile, will run himself into the ground – and 11 goals last season underlines his potency in front of goal.

For the lone striker berth, it’s unsurprisingly been John Marquis who’s primarily spearheaded the Blues' attack.

A £1m-plus arrival from Doncaster, after bagging 67 goals in the past three seasons, he was the showpiece signing of the transfer window.

Pompey not only have a marksman who knows how to find the net but someone who’ll also put in the graft. 

Ellis Harrison may not have the same goalscoring record, but he’s shown he’ll also badger the opposition, while he’s got aerial presence, too.

But on the flip side, should any of that matter when you’ve got someone with Pitman’s prowess?

Should running a few kilometres fewer per game really be that important when someone possesses his quality?

Should someone of his ilk really be told to become an extra defender when out of possession?

After all, a forward’s chief remit is to put the ball away. 

The fact Pitman scored 25 goals in his first season at Fratton Park, in a side that was substantially weaker than the Blues’ current set-up, suggests the Jersey-born ace would be aiming for a similar target if he played week in, week out.

Having been clinical in the 2014-15 campaign when AFC Bournemouth achieved promotion into the Premier League, Pitman’s among the deadliest poachers at League One level.

He’s a talismanic player who can snaffle away a half-chance, as he displayed against Crawley. 

In terms of natural finishers, he’s unrivalled at Fratton Park.

And while he hit a few stray passes against the Reds, his vision and creativity were there to be seen as soon as he entered the fray.