Claridge: Pompey had stalled under Awford

Former Pompey striker Steve Claridge

Former Pompey striker Steve Claridge

The Pompey players celebrate winning the League Two title on the final day of the 2016-17 season following their 6-1 win against Cheltenham Picture: Joe Pepler

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Steve Claridge believes Pompey’s progress as a club has stalled this season as he admitted he would love to do the job again.

The much-travelled striker had a short stint in charge as player-boss back in 2000, replacing Tony Pulis, and was then controversially axed for Graham Rix by former chairman Milan Mandaric.

But although he is already lined up for a return to management with Salisbury’s phoenix club after their financial demise, Claridge would like another crack in the Fratton Park hot seat after Andy Awford’s departure yesterday.

Claridge said: ‘The club has stalled this season, no matter what we say.

‘They are better than the situation they are in, they should be in the play-offs at least.

‘First and foremost, there will be split opinions.

‘Some will feel that he (Awford) has had an opportunity but hasn’t moved the club on.

‘Some will feel that certain decisions were wrong in the first place and others will feel that he should have been given more time.

‘You will get a lot of divisions among the supporters who will have very different feelings on this subject.

‘But it’s the most wonderful job in the world and they are the most magnificent supporters.

‘I’d do it in a heartbeat, that is well known, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I wish I could get it out of my system.’

Claridge also insists it is time Pompey started punching its weight as a club again.

He said: ‘It’s not a free ride any more and expectations are that the club should be starting to punch its weight but they haven’t, clearly when you look at the players and the budget.

‘The only reason that he (Awford) has suffered more than others in losing his job is that there isn’t the excuse of off-field antics any more.

‘The club is in a situation where it is clear of debt and a clear understanding of where it has to go.

‘They have underachieved, there is no doubt about that.

‘He has changed the team an awful lot and he has changed the system an awful lot.

‘People have suffered because of that and that is why they are where they are.’

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