Carlisle boss Keith Curle believes the level of expectation felt by Pompey can breed anxiety for Paul Cook’s men.
Curle’s third-placed Cumbrians host the Blues, in fifth, tomorrow in a crunch League Two clash between two fellow promotion contenders.
And ahead of the Brunton Park showdown, Carlisle’s manager has spoken at length on how he views his League Two rivals.
Speaking to The News and Star, Curle said: ‘I think they have been the favourites to get automatic promotion this season, they will have been last season, and if they don’t make it this time they will be next season as well.
‘If you look at what they’ve got in their armoury, not only the players they’ve got but the budget and level of support they’ve got, they are minimum a Championship football club playing in League Two.
‘The reasons for that have gone on before. They’ve got a very good manager that likes the game played in a certain way. It takes a little bit of time to get a whole club tuned into that.
‘They were on a downward spiral, and if you go from the Premier League and being FA Cup winners to League Two, it’s not always about what goes on on the field or in the changing room.
‘Trying to addressing that, with a manager with a decent budget and views, doesn’t mean change will always come as quickly as everyone would like. That can bring different pressures and anxieties, and they have to get managed and dealt with as well.
‘If you look at the credentials they’ve got, Portsmouth should be going out and beating everyone four or five-nil every week. But that won’t happen. That expectation can breed anxiety. You can then sometimes go and get more players, and better players, but then you find you can’t get rid of the others, and having too many players can cause you another problem. They are things managers have to deal with.
‘Being favourites week-in, week-out can affect you if the mentality isn’t right in the club to deal with that.’
Curle has warned Pompey that his side, who enter tomorrow’s game as underdogs with the bookmakers, are up for the challenge posed by the Blues and also the promotion run-in.
He added: ‘We went into the Doncaster game as underdogs, with everyone saying if we get beat, they would be 14 points clear and gone. Within the space of a week we are six points behind, and who’s to say at the end of another busy week we can’t be top?
‘Do we feel underdogs on our own patch? No. We are very competitive. There has been a lot of talk that Portsmouth are looking forward to our playing surface - well, we look forward to it as well. They’ve got good players, and so have we.’