Is it time for wing-backs to be grounded?

Dan Butler, left, gets some words of comfort from Ben Chorley Piccture: Joe Pepler
Dan Butler, left, gets some words of comfort from Ben Chorley Piccture: Joe Pepler

Formations don’t win you games, we are often told.

But perhaps the defeat at Bury will see Pompey’s wing-backs clipped for the forseeable future.

The system has its merits. It gives you an extra man in central midfield and the two-man strike partnership.

But its biggest failing is the lack of natural width it offers to a side and a lack of quality crosses for those strikers.

Few footballers are natural wing-backs, who can attack just as well as they defend and can patrol the length of the pitch for 90 minutes.

It’s a tough position to play – maybe the toughest.

But the stark issue facing Andy Awford is that he doesn’t have the players to fit into that system at present.

Alex Wynter is a centre-back, who can also do a job at right-back.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t yet shown that he can offer enough of an attacking threat in his short time at the club.

Dan Butler, who played on the left, has the athleticism and energy, but many believe he would be more effective as a full-back choosing his moments to go on the overlap.

They are both good players and it’s not their fault that neither of them looks like a wing-back.

Awford may well disagree with that summary – after all, he sees his players every day on the training ground at close quarters and knows exactly what they can do.

He’s a student of the game and has his coaching badges in abundance.

Perhaps it’s unfair to hark back to Matt Taylor and Steve Stone marauding down the flanks in that glorious season back in 2002-03. They were wing-backs, who were more wingers than defenders.

The other flaw in that comparison is that Paul Merson isn’t pulling the strings, Svetoslav Todorov isn’t banging the goals in and Linvoy Primus, Gianluca Festa and Arjan De Zeeuw aren’t the mean trio behind them.

As we all know, those days are gone. But Awford is well aware that his job is to find the system that best fits the players at his disposal.

The Blues boss ditched it at half-time against Bury to go to a flat-back four. He may choose to do the same against Stevenage tomorrow night.

Sacrificing a defender for a more forward-thinking player will surely give Pompey more of the goal threat that they are lacking.

A 4-2-3-1 worked so well towards the end of last season and a 4-3-3/4-5-1 still gives you midfield security.

Even the good-old 4-4-2 can work if players know when to sit or when to tuck in from out wide.

So just a bad day for the system or time it was shelved? Over to you, Awfs.