Barker demanding Pompey aggression

Richie Barker is demanding more aggression in his side as he attempts to mastermind Pompey’s revival.

The general lack of fighting spirit within the Blues team has alarmed supporters during recent months.

Richie Barker. Picture: Joe Pepler

Richie Barker. Picture: Joe Pepler

It was epitomised at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday when they slumped to defeat without so much as a whimper.

On that occasion, Bondz N’Gala was the sole player to be booked – for pulling back a player.

It’s an on-going lack of bite which Barker has already recognised is missing from Pompey’s game.

And he wants it addressed either by the current squad or in the transfer window.

He said: ‘I think you need to be aggressive and more difficult to beat by doing the stuff everybody associates with League Two, which is people who run around, head it, kick it, tackle.

‘We don’t necessarily want to be one of them but there is an aspect of the game that has to be that.

‘You cannot work on aggression in training.

‘There is no session you can put on for that, it is an intrinsic thing, you have either got it or you haven’t.

‘I don’t want anybody to go out there and purposely hurt anyone.

‘But if you win more tackles than you lose and win more headers and physical confrontations you have more chance of winning the game.

‘Aggression is not down to confidence, I would say it is one of the things confidence doesn’t effect.

‘I don’t think you need to be confident to be aggressive. It’s finding that fine line between aggressive, organised people who can play, people who can get around the pitch.

‘Something has to give because if you look for the aggressive player who is quick, can play and get around the pitch he probably wouldn’t be playing in League Two!

‘It’s not necessarily about being nasty.

‘You want somebody who is a bit aggressive and maybe a leader as well, somebody who leads by example but also a vocal head.’

Barker certainly pulled no punches when it came to his post-match assessment after Bristol Rovers.

Full and frank, he left fans and players in no doubt what they can expect from the straight-talking boss.

And Barker stressed the importance to be ‘honest’ with Pompey supporters.

He added: ‘There was no point me coming out and going “we were unlucky, we have let people down”.

‘People don’t want to hear that anymore.

‘I don’t do it because they want to hear it.

‘I am not in the game just telling people what they want to hear.

‘I think the best thing for me to do is be honest and say that things are going to have to change.

‘I am well aware there will be a few people who won’t have liked it but I didn’t like getting beat 2-0 either.

‘I don’t criticise players very often and hopefully I won’t have to.’