Will the Sheffield United way stay? Portsmouth boss' food for thought as he aims to excite fans at Charlton Athletic

Danny Cowley is weighing up whether to continue with the ‘Sheffield United way’ as his side go to Charlton.

Friday, 24th September 2021, 4:55 am

But the Pompey boss has vowed he’ll find the right formula to excite supporters, as he looks to inject momentum into the season at The Valley.

The Blues picked up a 2-2 draw against in-form Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday night, with a much-improved display after three league defeats on the spin.

A heightened tempo and switch to a back three were two of the central themes at Fratton Park, as Cowley’s side presented more of an attacking threat than in recent games.

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With midfielder Shaun Williams and right-sided defender Kieran Freeman utilised in the central trio, both men offered forward impetus from their positions.

That was reminiscent of the unusual approach utilised memorably by Sheffield United two years ago, which allowed the centre-halves to regularly get forward.

It resulted in the Blades reaching the Premier League, and then surprising many sides by succeeding in their first campaign at the highest level as they finished ninth.

Pompey players produced more attacking verve against Plymouth

It also allowed Pompey to play the two strikers preferred by many fans, but there was also faults evident as Cowley looked at what unfolded.

Now he has to decide what to do as his side go to the capital.

He said: ‘I like the vertical patterns the back three can give you, though but you then have to build behind it.

‘The devil is in the detail, so it will be the more the players play it.

‘He can do it, Shaun Williams, he can play that role (in a back three).

‘We had one moment in the first half when we had an overlap from Shaun Williams and he crossed.

‘Tunni (Tunnicliffe) had joined the box it and left us two on one. Tunni should have stayed and he didn’t.

‘Mahlon (Romeo) had a sprint recovery, caught Camara and turned him over.

‘That was more tactical.

‘It’s not like you’re on the training pitch and cover every detail and scenario.

‘It takes time, but I just want to excite our supporters. I know what they want.’

Pompey had just 72 hours from Saturday’s loss to Cambridge United to organise the formation switch against the Pilgirms.

A 4-3-3 was used last weekend with a 4-2-3-1 the other formation used at times this term.

Taking on board the requirements from such a shift over a short period presents its own issues, and is another consideration for Cowley going into the Charlton game.

Pompey could also potentially have Connor Ogilvie fit for the weekend, which would also give them a more sturdy left-footed central defensive option in a back four - and a system the players have worked on more.

Cowley added: ‘It got thrown on us a bit (against Plymouth) and we will get the chance to develop a plan B.

‘But even if you have the whole group together, it takes six weeks to master plan A!

‘If your plan A is really good and there’s real detail in every facet of the game, that takes a lot of work. If you give them plan B as well, it can be tough.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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