Awford backed – but players blasted

Ray Crawford has blamed the Pompey players for the club's predicament Picture: Joe Pepler

Ray Crawford has blamed the Pompey players for the club's predicament Picture: Joe Pepler

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Ray Crawford has delivered his backing to Andy Awford – and rounded on Pompey’s underachieving players.

The Blues boss was given a vote of confidence on Monday following day-long meetings over his future.

His position as manager was up for debate after a run of eight matches wisthout a win had left the club languishing in 18th spot.

The subsequent boardroom decision continues to divide fans, although Crawford has applauded the Pompey hierarchy’s actions.

The former England international is adamant Awford should be allowed more time to show his worth in the job.

And he blasted the players who have put the 42-year-old into such a precarious position.

‘Andy has got to be given time, even if it’s until the end of the season, before he can be judged,’ said Crawford.

‘I don’t believe we will be relegated. The players are capable of getting us out of it, so let him continue to manage.

‘Believe it or not, I saw this coming. The end to last season was brilliant, he deserved to be the man in charge, but I felt the euphoria could raise expectations.

‘Now we are at the point where the players have let him down. Some of them have now got contracts here and they are not putting the effort in or showing willingness to work hard.

‘The players have let their team-mates down, the supporters down, this great club down and the manager down.

‘Alan McLoughlin, a good coach, was used as a scapegoat and that has been proven by the games since he has left – we don’t want that to happen to the manager.

‘Andy is a young manager, he will learn and I am backing him.

‘During my days at Ipswich, Bobby Robson came in and had only been there a little while before supporters were saying the same as they are down here.

‘The chairman went straight in and not only backed the manager but added another year to his contract.

‘Ipswich then took off – and everybody knows what Bobby’s record became.’

Pompey travel to league leaders Wycombe on Saturday, although Awford’s crunch game will be the visit of Hartlepool on February 7.

And Crawford would like to see a new strike partnership.

He added: ‘Andy has got to play Ryan Taylor alongside Matt Tubbs – the big guy needs to win things and flick them on.

‘At the moment Tubbs is playing as an out-and-out striker with others feeding off him – but his game is getting into the six-yard box and onto the end of crosses.

‘We all have opinions on the team. When I saw the team sheet on Saturday I knew it was wrong.

‘As supporters we have a passion for this club and we need more passion and more work-rate from the players, who should be getting better results.’

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