Another Boxing Day win at Fratton would suit Barker
By Staff Reporter
Tuesday 24 Dec 2013 19:11:00
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A year ago, Richie Barker was the winning Boxing Day manager at Fratton Park - with Crawley. How he will be wishing the same is true this year - with the Blues. Pompey need a win against Dagenham and Redbridge (1pm kick off) when he sends them out for the third time as manager - in fact, too much longer without one doesn't bear thinking about.


As it is, Pompey could be in the bottom two come the end of Boxing Day. If they lose and Bury, Torquay and York win, they will be 23rd - 91st out of 92 in the league. Just six and seven years ago, it was how many places they were from the top of the Premier League that was occupying minds.

The Daggers come to Fratton having had an excellent first half of the season. They sit 10th, just four points off the play-off places - which is where most Pompey fans will feel their team should be, and would be but for a shockingly-bad past seven weeks of results and performances.

Barker knows time is not on his side as he bids to begin the process of stopping the considerable rot. He wants his players to show more aggression as they set out to halt their slide. He has also insisted he will not shy away from the need to criticise his players again, as he did after the defeat at Bristol Rovers, if poor displays warrant it.

He told The News: ‘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.’

The team news for Pompey is that Andy Barcham and Shaun Cooper are injury doubts after coming off at Bristol Rovers while Bondz N'Gala is suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season during that defeat. Dagenham boss Wayne Burnett may go unchanged despite their loss to Torquay but Luke Wilkinson and Josh Scott are pushing for recalls.

Our prediction: Pompey 1 Daggers 0

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