The tactical change which will give Portsmouth boss food for thought after Southend win

A crossfield ball towards the end of the first half opened up a scenario we've scarcely seen during Kenny Jackett's reign as Pompey boss – especially since Matt Clarke departed.

Tuesday, 6th October 2020, 10:48 pm
Haji Mnoga performed superbly for Pompey at Southend. Picture: Nigel Keene

Haji Mnoga, featuring in a right-midfield role, picked up the ball in all kinds of space, with centre-back James Bolton surging past him on the outside.

Bolton's cross ultimately was a poor one after receiving the ball, putting paid to a threatening foray.

Nevertheless, the situation was encouraging.

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Overlapping central defenders are something that have become more and more frequent in the Premier League – particularly because of Chris Wilder's revolution at Sheffield United.

But could many have predicted we'd see the same tactics deployed by the usually-pragmatic Jackett? Highly unlikely.

Nevertheless, the 3-4-3 formation the Blues rolled out in their 3-0 steamrolling of Southend certainly offers food for thought for the rest of the season.

Granted, this was against a Shrimpers outfit who'll be scrapping for League Two survival this season. Yet it was the perfect game to experiment.

From the first whistle, Pompey were full of verve and gusto, with Ben Close and Ryan Williams missing chances within two minutes.

This system might never have been used previously by the Fratton Park supremo, but it didn't look alien to his troops.

Throughout the first half, Jackett was encouraging Mnoga and Cam Pring on each flank to stay high up the pitch and offer their attacking services.

In fact, there was one moment when Jackett was getting frustrated Mnoga wasn’t deep enough in energy territory.

That didn’t take anything away from an excellent outing from the academy graduate, though. For a lad of 18, he becomes more powerful and confident every time he's given a rare outing.

Mnoga won the penalty for John Marquis' opener and then could have had a maiden Blues goal when he side-footed wide.

In the second period, he continued to maraud up the flank, giving Southend hardly a chance to go near him. A defender by trade, his lung-busting runs twice won the visitors back possession.

Ryan Williams enjoyed the buzz of being able to come inside, get himself in tight situations and use his guile and low centre of gravity. End product only lacked a superb display.

Back in the side, Ronan Curtis also enjoyed the freedom to play slightly more centrally. His penchant to get on the ball in the middle of the park yielded two goals from long-range.

In truth, it's unlikely we might see this system any time soon from the outset in League One.

Jackett's a staunch supporter of his 4-2-3-1 preferred formation.

However, should the Blues need to be flexible in games they're struggling attacking-wide then 3-4-3 is an option.