You can’t work on desire and hunger on the training ground - Sunderland legend and Fratton great’s withering assessments of Portsmouth players

Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips questioned the hunger and desire of Pompey’s players after their latest failure.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 2:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 3:04 pm

And former Blues great, Matty Taylor believes the lack of intent from his former club’s players to attack balls in both penalty areas is frustrating Kenny Jackett.

Phillips pulled no punches in breaking down another insipid showing from Jackett’s men, as part of Sky Sports’ studio team covering last night’s 2-0 Black Cats win at Fratton Park.

He gave a withering assessment of the character traits Pompey’s players are failing to show as their season disintegrates.

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Phillips said: ‘From me, it comes from within.

‘You can’t work on desire, hunger on the training ground. That’s in you - to go attack the ball and get a cut on your head.

‘Their deliveries into the box, there wasn’t enough for me, but the ones which did come in there wasn’t someone who wanted to get a split head.

‘That’s a concern. Between the two boxes it was okay, it wasn’t great, but when you do get the opportunities to get it in the box you need good delivery - but you need hunger, desire and bodies in the box who want to put their bodies on the line in both boxes.

Matt Taylor

‘That wasn’t there and will be a slight concern for Kenny.

‘He’ll look at his experience, get them back on the training ground, sort it out and hopefully a result Saturday can kickstart their season again.’

Taylor, who now works a coach in Spurs’ academy, gave a measured breakdown of what he saw unfold and Jackett’s post-match interview.


He could both sense and understand the Pompey boss’ frustration over his players’ inability to attack the ball in both penalty areas.

Taylor said: ‘He’s got players he’s worked with for a long time, players he’s signed.

‘What I took from his interview was from box to box he’s quite happy with how they’re moving the ball and transitioning possession.

‘But ultimately what he’s saying is there’s not enough intent to attack the ball when his players are crossing it, to get across your man and really attack the space like you see with Wyke and their goal.

‘In the other box, he wants his defenders - whether that be defenders, midfielders or attackers at set-plays to go and attack the ball as well.

‘When it comes down to it, it’s a game which is won and lost in both boxes.

‘The manager has made it very clear that’s what he expects. If there’s a message to his players I would suggest that’s it.’

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