Have Pompey picked the right Guy?

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Guy Whittingham: Dividing supporter opinion

Guy Whittingham: Dividing supporter opinion

Portsmouth FanZoner Dan Brett assesses whether Pompey should look for a mid-season shake-up in the dugout.

You'll seriously struggle to find one Pompey fan who would have wanted Guy Whittingham to struggle as manager.

And I certainly wouldn't want to be the person appointed to mitigate between expectation in the stands and achievement displayed on the pitch.

Disgruntled fans have resurfaced their views that Whittingham may have run his course as Blues' boss, after bowing out of two cup competitions and suffering a 4-0 league thrashing at AFC Wimbledon in just seven days.

The former striker, who scored 99 goals over three stints as a Blues' player, signed a one-year deal to take on the job on a full-time basis, after working as caretaker since November 2012.

And, despite a long-running winless streak and relegation to League Two (with help from yet another points deduction from the Football League), the club stood by their man and allowed him the chance to mould his own side - the first forward-thinking act in the club's recent history.

The 49-year-old added seventeen fresh faces to his squad, as well as nailing down experienced professionals Johnny Ertl, David Connolly and Patrick Agyemang - the twice-caretaker manager moulding the group to his own specifications.

This was never going to be just any new squad, in any old season, for any inexperienced manager - Whittingham was both spearheading a promotion charge and leading Pompey into a new era; pressure indeed.

And as if all of that wasn't enough for the former Newport boss, the country's top bookies placed the South Coast side as favourites to win League Two, well before a ball had been been kicked.

Time is yet to tell on whether this pressure is the reason for the side's poor start to the campaign - but from a brief glance, it seems as though something isn't quite working.

A first-third haul of just five wins from fifteen games has seen the community-owned club languish in the lower half of the table, with four red cards (in all competitions) compounding a poor opening four months.

And, despite after a rally cry from Whittingham and his back room staff in the wake of a 3-0 defeat at Newport County in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy - their second cup exit in three days - plenty of questions are resurfacing around Whittingham's tenure, and Pompey's on-field ambition.

Frustratingly, after the side's appalling 4-2 loss at York earlier this season, the gaffer slammed his side's performance and promised nothing of the same again.

But this is exactly what the club's forever-strong travelling army of supporters were welcomed with again yesterday - an effortless performances, which saw the side pick up more yellow cards (3) than shots on target (2).

Of course, it's not too long ago (just seven months ago, in fact) that Pompey were taken over by the Supporters' Trust - saving the club from the clutches of reluctant, asset-stipping owners; a memory that sobers many fans' anger towards lacklustre performances.

But how long can fans be expected to dine from the 'at least we still have a football club' platter? How long will fans subscribe to the mantra of first-season consolidation, rather than building the club's reputation on-field as much as the Trust have laid long-term foundations off it?

Even after yesterday's 'performance', many fans will still be feeling the splinters of sitting on the fence, regarding how Pompey's future should be shaped; whether that be by sticking or twisting with the manager.

But one thing is for certain - the number of people climbing down from said fence and expecting more from their football club is growing with every conceded goal, defeat and roll-over-and-die performance.

So, who is at fault? Whose door should blame lay at? It's a tough question - do you lament a managerial set-up for the lack of passion from paid professionals, or do you criticise the squad who are misdirected from the get-go?

Let's not forget, Whittingham is a young and experienced manager, who may benefit from an older, wiser head around him to guide him.

But these players, many of which have experience in well-rated and some, top-flight academies, along with experienced professionals - especially at this level.

Certainly a tricky question to answer, and one that Whittingham and his back-room staff will have to address sooner rather than later; but plenty of questions to also be aimed towards boardroom level at Fratton Park.

Can the club afford to sack a manager who only has six months left on his contract? Any fee to pay off the manager would, likely, be hard-earned money invested by loyal Pompey fans.

Would such a move be of long-term detriment off-field and short-term hindrance on it? Only two sides can be relegated from League Two - and from what we've seen, Pompey certainly aren't the worst.

Are there any better names available to take over? Plenty of names being banded about: Neil Warnock, Martin Allen, Danny Wilson - but would they come and, if so, can the club afford the extra wages?

Plenty of questions but, as yet, no real answers from those in control at Fratton Park.

However, the biggest question for me; would they want to remove a young and hungry manager from a golden opportunity? It's not all bad, if you consider the following:

Taking away last season - a period where, I reckon, any judgement shouldn't be counted - Whittingham's win percentage, (since August) sits at 33 per cent - the highest of any full time manager since Harry Redknapp's departure to Tottenham in 2008.

Also, this season's win haul is the second-highest since Redknapp's sacking in November 2004 - eclipsing messieurs Zajec, Perrin, Jordan, Adams, Hart, Grant, Cotterill and Appleton.

Also, four of Pompey's five defeats have come against the current top-four in the division - perhaps a little bit of a comforting realisation, after all is said and done.

'Give them another five games' has been a keen response that I've received from supporters who haven't already drawn their views, matches against Scunthorpe, Southend, Hartlepool, Wycombe Wanderers and Newport County.

However, these games won't be easy for Pompey, nor Whittingham, much like most games have proved so far; testimony to the ever-growing quality of football in England's fourth tier.

All five of these sides sit above the Blues' 16th-place position, three of which occupy a top-half place, with two in the hunt for the coveted play-off spots that the Fratton Faithful, by large, still hang their hopes on of achieving themselves.

But is that a realistic achievement under the current regime?

Time, if given, will tell - but for now, it seems that patience is slowly dwindling, and resurgence is in high demand - but always, Pompey's fans will always support their side, and manager, until the bitter end.



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