Paul Cook: I’m ready to again use Pompey’s Plan B

  • Pompey sit in third spot and unbeaten in seven league games for trip to Oxford United
  • Cook has lined-up with a 4-2-3-1 system in all 10 of his matches in charge
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Paul Cook is ready to roll out his Pompey plan B again as he focuses on conquering Oxford United.

The Blues boss demonstrated his tactical flexibility by introducing a 3-5-2 system after half-time against Barnet last Saturday.

Pompey boss Paul Cook Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey boss Paul Cook Picture: Joe Pepler

The switch from his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation helped transform a stodgy-looking draw into a 3-1 victory over the Bees.

Cook revealed it is a formation his squad have never practised in training.

Nonetheless, it changed the match.

Tomorrow, Pompey head to Michael Appleton’s U’s looking to build on an unbeaten start to the League Two campaign and third spot.

I hadn’t worked on Plan B. I don’t like to put mixed messages into players, I don’t like preparing to be not successful

Paul Cook

And the Blues boss admitted he would again be prepared to play with three central defenders if necessary.

‘That will be my change, that will be the way I like to change it,’ said Cook.

‘It allows us to still have men in the middle of the park to try to dominate the ball but get a bit more of a threat up front.

‘Dominating possession can go out of the window, it all becomes a bit more of a circus with bookings and time wasting. I think we have got to get used to it and have got to adapt to overcome it.

‘That’s just the way it is. It is not a criticism, teams don’t come to Portsmouth to lie down and let us run all over them, they come here to beat us and our job is to make sure if they change then we are prepared to change as well to be better.

‘I hadn’t worked on it (plan B). I don’t like to put mixed messages into players, I don’t like preparing to be not successful.

‘All we are actually doing is not really changing much how we play. I know that might sound silly but for the full-backs it doesn’t change, it just allows us to get another striker on possibly.

‘Our team is quite a natural team anyway with the way the full-backs go forward.

‘Accrington’s way of stopping us was getting their wide players to track our full-backs all the way, so if they were to do that against three at the back good luck.

‘Our team doesn’t change a lot, it just allows us to maybe not pass as much without really hurting people, to be a little bit more direct and concentrate on putting the ball back in their areas.’

Pompey will be without ankle injury victim Gary Roberts for the trip to the Kassam Stadium.

Although, Jayden Stockley is again available as the Blues seek to extend their unbeaten league start to eight matches.

But despite the emergence of an alternative playing system, Cook will once again line up with a 4-2-3-1.

He added: ‘I would start a match with three central defenders if I felt the game would go how they have gone recently.

‘Certainly, at the minute do I feel like that? Not really.

‘But we will start working more and more on it in training.’