Blues must do better - but not that much

Pompey are not as far off their ambitions as we may think. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey are not as far off their ambitions as we may think. Picture: Joe Pepler
Kal Naismith back in Pompey's side against Bournemouth.

Naismith returns for Pompey friendly

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There’s little doubt things have to be stepped up at Pompey.

Yes, it hasn’t been that great around PO4 of late with pressure building on Andy Awford and his team.

But things may not be quite as bad as we all thought. Just yet.

The schizophrenic form of a team quite clearly still building its identity has been driving us all to distraction.

The agitators have been agitating, moaners moaning and optimists seeing their half-full pints in the Shepherds Crook look increasingly empty.

With some of the football served up and capitulations witnessed it’s all entirely justified, make no mistake.

The cries for improvements are throaty but the margins by which Pompey have to do so are not as marked as what you would think.

The 3-0 defeat at Bury in the middle of October prompted an acceleration in the angst at where this season is headed.

Since then, Awford’s side have won three and lost three of their ensuing league fixtures.

If they were to reproduce that form across the course of 46 games, there’s a fair chance we’d all be fairly pleased at the outcome, believe it or not.

Win one, lose one form delivered over nine months or so would give a 69-point return for the season.

In three of the last six campaigns that would have been enough to see the team finish in the top seven – and nail down a play-off spot.

Bradford in 2012-13, Torquay in 2010-11 and Shrewsbury in 2008-9 all made it with 69 points or less.

Interestingly, in those six seasons, it was the side who took the seventh spot who went on to gain promotion.

It’s play-off lore that it’s so often the team who finishes with impetus, coming into picture late on, who then have the momentum to complete the job.

Pompey fans need little reminding of that, having finished 12 points in front of Swindon, who made it to the Premier League at their expense in 1993.

And, let’s face it, it’s the play-offs where the ambitions lie for this team.

The majority of supporters have carried that sentiment since setting out on the road to Exeter back at the start of August.

An online poll on one of our Pompey Live! blogs at the opening of the season revealed most fans were targeting a top-seven finish.

It’s a view echoed all the way around Fratton Park from the stands to the boardroom.

Pompey currently find themselves five points from that position in a division which is slowly taking 
shape.

Shrewsbury, Luton and Burton will all be expected to last the course and stay in the promotion picture. Bury have hit a rough patch but have the resources to suggest a top-seven spot will be achieved.

Southend and Plymouth both have the look of contenders. Less so Newport County, who have just sneaked into shake-up.

Wycombe, on their limited resources, continue to surprise but will their squad be able to handle it when the pace quickens in the new year?

It’s budgets which have been creating plenty of chat around these parts of late.

Pompey’s place them among the highest in the division and, with that, comes expectancy.

After initially playing down hopes, Awford admitted it was a facade for his true ambitions.

Things will have to be stepped up to fulfil them, with Pompey currently on course to finish on around 63 points.

But maybe he will be given the chance let his plans take shape in a way his pal, and predecessor, Guy Whittingham wasn’t.

And maybe amid our understandable anger when things are going wrong, we can maintain the perspective to see they aren’t as far as we sometimes think from being right.