BLUES BOSS Michael Appleton assessed his ambitions for the rest of the season and insisted: It’s all about survival.
The Pompey manager has been forced to re-evaluate his club’s hopes for the rest of the 2011-12 campaign, just six games after taking the Fratton Park hot seat.
Appleton has made it clear that keeping the team afloat in the Championship has to be the aim now, with Pompey facing more financial uncertainty behind the scenes.
The target at the start of the season was for the team to finish in the top six under new owners Convers Sports Initiatives (CSI).
A lot has happened since then, however, with CSI entering administration.
The players though, have publicly stated they are sticking to that play-offs ambition.
And Appleton refuses to dismiss that hope, but believes steadying the good ship Pompey is now the realistic aim as they head into 2012.
He said: ‘From my view, we have to stay in the division.
‘At the minute, my main concern is what is below us and not what is above us.
‘I would never write the play-offs off, because you can win three games like Barnsley and Burnley did and you are straight back up there.
‘But you can also lose a few and then be right in the thick of it.
‘So I’m not writing it off, but it’s about stability first and foremost after all that has happened.
‘Bringing stability in means bringing in more quality.
‘Once we have an owner and that is all sorted and agreed, we can then start looking at the structure of the football club.
‘Until that happens, the Academy and recruitment and what have you is on the back burner a bit because my main focus lies on keeping us a team in this division.’
Appleton has plans in place for how to go about rebuilding Pompey, both on and off the pitch.
That includes working on the club’s infrastructure and building a playing staff who can make the Blues a Championship threat.
Appleton’s view is a lot more short-term than long at present – although he knows exactly how he wants to take his outfit forward.
He said: ‘I’m not going to make any bones about it – ultimately, we have to stabilise the football club.
‘Now what does that mean? It means a lot things.
‘Firstly, it means we should stay in the division.
‘Secondly, it means trying to find owners who can take this club forward and do it for the right reasons.
‘We are all in the same boat in wishing for that.
‘Then there’s getting a squad together, and utilising it so the balance is right, and we can have competition for places in every position, rather than having players who are very comfortable and don’t feel they are going to be under pressure.
‘Next season then becomes a big season because, hopefully, we are going to be in a better place and a stronger place to attack the league.
‘We’re still looking for that balance – to get to a position where I have two good players competing for every position.
‘I will keep striving until I get that balance right.
‘The top teams who win their leagues and get promoted have that.’