Barker lays it on line to players

Pompey boss Richie Barker Picture: Barry Zee
Pompey boss Richie Barker Picture: Barry Zee
Plymouth Argyle's Remi Matthews. Picture: PA Images

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RICHIE BARKER has told his Pompey squad they are playing for their futures.

The newly-appointed Blues boss has made it clear he is prepared to wield the axe after his management career at Fratton Park started in defeat on Saturday.

Barker saw for himself the brittle confidence of his players as they fell to a 2-0 loss to Newport County.

That made it eight games without a win for the Blues and left the new man’s side just four points from the League Two drop zone.

Barker underlined his conviction the men he has inherited are privileged to be plying their trade at Pompey.

And he will have no qualms in making changes to turn the club’s season around.

Barker said: ‘There wasn’t really any surprises.

‘Things look fairly fragile.

‘We’re all in this together and need to make our thoughts known very quickly.

‘We’ve spoken in a constructive way but, make no bones about it, we’re in a tough run.

‘Everybody is in this to prove they deserve to be at Portsmouth Football Club. It’s a fantastic place to be.

‘I’m still learning about the players. But all the players are lucky to be at such a wonderful football club.

‘I’m sure one or two of them are pinching themselves they are playing for Portsmouth.

‘If they want to stay here, they are going to have to start doing the right things.

‘Anything has to wait until January 1. I can’t do anything until then apart from preparing.

‘We’re in this together this group, at least for the next four games. So we need to get on with it.’

Saturday’s loss incredibly makes it six Blues defeats from 11 home game this season.

It was more tough viewing for the majority of 15,295 fans present at Fratton Park.

Pompey had chances but saw their confidence ebb away after Michael Flynn’s opener just after the hour mark.

There were more boos on the full-time whistle at the result, before Barker applauded the Fratton faithful.

He explained he wanted to acknowledge their loyalty despite the lacklustre performances.

Barker added: ‘I wanted to show appreciation to people who turn up week-in, week-out to watch a team who are struggling.

‘These fans are the people who make this club what it is.

‘Without them it’s just another football club. They make this place special.

‘So we need them to turn up and feel appreciated and see improvements quickly.

‘It’s tough. It’s a big job. You have to be a special kind of person to come here and handle playing in front of 15,000-plus fans every week.

‘They are a fantastic bunch of fans but you need to be mentally strong.

‘It is a tough job taking over with the team on a poor run of results.

‘It’s going to be tough but we’re looking forward to it.

‘We are going to work extremely hard to get there.’