Portsmouth boss John Mousinho has given the secrets to his side’s attacking performance this season in an interview with The News.
Portsmouth are currently League One’s fifth highest scorers, but have the joint highest goal difference through their impressive defensive record which has seen them concede just 12 goals in their opening 16 games.
Still unbeaten in the league, that record can be attributed to the strong defensive performances but the defence, in Mousinho’s system, provide far more than just protecting their goal.
In fact, Mousinho’s defenders are the players who most often start and accelerate attacks. His two central defenders, Conor Shaughnessy and Regan Poole have both been instrumental in the side’s unbeaten run and are among League One’s most progressive ball carriers.
It is some times a risk, bringing the ball forward through the centre-halves, but both players have excelled this season in their new role.
However with the news of Regan Poole suffering a season-ending ACL injury, one of Portsmouth’s other defenders will be expected to step-up and emulate his performances. Playing alongside Shaughnessy, who has been one of the standout players in League One this season should not be too hard for whoever starts, and we may see a new partnership form very quickly.
The injury to Poole certainly harms the Portsmouth defence, but Mousinho has stated that nothing will change regarding his defensive tactics. Speaking on the importance of the defenders progressing the ball, Mousinho said:
“What we want from our centre-halves is that bravery to take the ball under pressure.
“If no one is going to close them down they have to keep going and keep going until they can commit someone. That can then create an overload somewhere else on the pitch.
“You do see it. You see it when you see how sides are clever in the way they press us and how they close us down.”
As Mousinho states, some opponents have cottoned on to their tactics, but very few have been able to stop them and that is one of the reasons why they sit atop the League One table currently.
The manager believes in the defenders that they can carry the ball forward without harming the security at the back, with him adding:
“We’re not doing it for the sake of it.
“First of all we have to be secure behind the ball, but it then releases another body up the pitch. It’s not gung-ho, because we do have security behind the ball.
“We don’t want to discourage any players from joining our attack.”
It begs to be seen just how impactful the injury to Poole will be to the rest of the team, and they will be without the former Lincoln man for the rest of the season. Mousinho’s tactics are working incredibly well at the present though, so fans will not be too fearful.
Portsmouth have undergone huge changes in the John Mousinho era, and those changes are clearly paying off. Still preserving their unbeaten record this far into November exemplifies the success of the team and they’ll very much be in the promotion picture come the end of the season.
That being said, the loss of Poole is significant and with Oxford and Bolton just one point behind, it may not be all plain sailing for Portsmouth. Under Mousinho though, fans will not be worried and will expect players to make the step-up and it would come as no surprise to see these attacking tactics utilised throughout the season.