Chaplin’s the Pompey talker this time

Conor Chaplin celebrates scoring against Wycombe. Picture: Joe Pepler
Conor Chaplin celebrates scoring against Wycombe. Picture: Joe Pepler

I bet yoouse were all writing we need to play 4-4-2 at half-time...

We weren’t but Paul Cook was well aware of the clamour for him to utilise two strikers among supporters.

This wasn’t a recent conversation, though, but one which arrived more than a year ago as Pompey foundered against Morecambe at Fratton Park.

Cook’s side, of course, were 3-0 down at the break with Matt Tubbs looking the squarest of pegs in the roundest of holes as he attempted to lead the line in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Morecambe aren’t Barcelona but the Blues looked on the way to a Celtic-style tonking that day. They pulled it back, though, and saved a point.

But the call to play the traditional formation of football on these shores – the one favoured by Mike Bassett: England Manager – was there.

And it’s one which has long followed Cook around.

It was a similar story at Chesterfield for much of his time at the Proact Stadium.

Cook isn’t rigid in his approach but his preferred set-up of three attacking players behind a single striker is well established.

His belief an ability to dominate possession and create chances arrives with the formation is evident.

Now, though, the clamour for Conor Chaplin is superseding the impassioned call for two strikers.

They were arguments which went hand in hand, with the belief Chaplin needs a strike partner to get the best from him.

There was compelling evidence to the contrary against Wycombe, though.

So, with Curtis Main ‘50-50’ for Accrington Stanley does Chaplin get his first league start at the Crown Ground?

Or does Cook turn to a more trusted figurehead like Michael Smith?

Maybe we weren’t before but it’s something we’ll be continuing to write about in the coming days...