Awford shows his steely side

Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler
Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey's Brett Pitman scores a penalty in the Blues' 1-1 draw against Walsall at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South.

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ANDY AWFORD revealed his steely side as he warned his players: Don’t cross the line with me.

The Pompey boss has delivered a feel-good start to his time as manager of the Blues.

But he has told his players in no uncertain terms he is not a man to be messed with moving forward.

The 41-year-old instilled a renewed belief into his team after succeeding Richie Barker as manager.

That saw them storm to League Two safety off the back of five wins and two draws at the end of the campaign.

Awford’s mantra through that period was ‘smile’ and ‘believe’, as he continually told his players to enjoy their football.

But he underlined his hard-nosed edge by telling his team not to underestimate his ability to get tough.

Awford said: ‘I’ll get on with anybody.

‘I’ll have a laugh and a joke with most people.

‘But when we need to work and be serious, that’s fine by me, too.

‘The players have been fantastic and we have had a trusting relationship.

‘They trust me and I trust them. But they know if they cross the line they will be told.

‘If they cross that line they will be disciplined because you don’t cross it. Not with me.

‘They have been great on that front so far.

‘I’ve not had a minute’s problem with them, and that’s what I want.

‘That’s what we’ve had.

‘We’ve had a happy environment to work in.

‘If we can be a happy place to come in, that all helps.

‘When we work we work very hard, but we want it to be enjoyable.

‘It’s not a jolly boys’ outing, though.

‘Del Boy and Rodney aren’t driving the coach every day.

‘It’s full on, it’s proper. When we work, we work.

‘It’s not a circus, but you have to have time to have those enjoyable moments.

‘That’s important to build the team spirit.’

Awford is confident he has inherited a squad with the kind of characters he needs to call upon moving forward.

He has faith in their ability to manage themselves and ensure there are no passengers as Pompey aim to make an impact in League Two next season.

Awford explained he has no problem sorting any problems among his players moving forward.

But he expects them, for the most part, to be able to police themselves.

Awford added: ‘I don’t want to go into the dressing room and manage it.

‘They should manage the dressing room, not me.

‘There are enough senior pros in there to do that.

‘They should be able to keep it ticking over and sort out bits and bobs.

‘If anything major goes on, I’ll go in there and sort it out. Of course I will. But in the main they should be managing their own dressing room.’