Guy Whittingham is preparing a Pompey ‘invasion’ in the dockyard derby tomorrow.
The Blues boss is looking to go ‘behind enemy lines’ at Plymouth as he plots his side’s third win on the bounce.
Like a general plotting for battle, Whittingham is considering what formation best suits his team’s charge for points.
The Pompey manager used that analogy to describe his bid for victory as his team step out at Home Park.
Whittingham opted for a lone striker at Oxford in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday, with Romain Padovani operating behind John Marquis and support coming from the wide areas.
The game changed in the second half, however, when Patrick Agyemang came off the bench and the system was switched to an orthodox 4-4-2.
Whittingham said: ‘Someone once said to me it’s an invasion game.
‘It’s like an army trying to go behind enemy lines.
‘Whether it’s between the lines, down the sides or over the top, you are trying to get in behind the enemy and cause them problems.
‘It makes things simple when you talk in those terms.
‘I’m a fan of two up front – that’s where the goals are scored.
‘There will be times to go another way and we have been that way at some places.
‘We’ve used people in behind the front man. That’s a possibility we will always look at.
‘But, at home especially, I think two strikers is the way to go at the moment.
‘Teams often use three in midfield nowadays.
‘Rochdale played a 4-4-1-1 system and Oxford are generally a 4-4-2.
‘So I’m not sure it’s always the case in our division.
‘Sometimes it seems you are outnumbered three to two in midfield.
‘But then you have two up front to cause problems.
‘I think in the Premier League you don’t get many with a 4-4-2 now.
‘Most seem to have a three these days.
‘It’s midfield that you want to control the game, so they tend to put three in there.
‘But I’m not sure that will go all the way down and be a part of things at our level.’
No matter how Whittingham sets Pompey up in their first league clash with Plymouth in 21 years, he feels it’s the calibre of his troops which is decisive.
Getting the best out of them is key for the man known as Corporal Punishment in his playing days, after he joined Pompey when leaving the army.
He said: ‘There’s all this 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 and 4-4-2.
‘It’s down to the flexibility of the players out there.
‘If you have energetic players out there covering all the area, that’s the most important thing.
‘It’s not so much about the shape, it’s the players you’ve got.
‘It’s no good going with wing-backs if you haven’t got wing-backs who can get up and down the pitch.
‘It’s no good having three in midfield if you haven’t got one who’s good on the half turn in spaces.
‘It’s all about the players you bring in and who you put into those slots.’