Hayden Mullins has warned Pompey to learn the lessons of this season’s woes if they are to bid for a Premier League return.
Mullins believes the Blues can challenge for a berth at the elite level of the English game once again – if Steve Cotterill is allowed to build a squad.
The 32-year-old insists Pompey have to do everything possible to start the season with a squad capable of competing at Championship level.
Pompey began this campaign with a squad hugely short of numbers, quality and experience.
They paid for that as they failed to register a win in the opening seven games, and had a similar run at the start of the year as their problems mounted.
Mullins said: ‘Next season is going to be a tough one.
‘But hopefully the manager is given some money to spend and we can get a few players in. If that’s the case then we will have every chance.
‘Had we added three or four players to the squad we would have been a lot stronger and had more options.
‘There were times, like at Forest, when we had two outfield players on the bench.
‘It’s just rolled on from the two previous seasons I’ve been here.
‘The squad has been so thin and we lost the early games as a result of that.
‘It’s been difficult this season but we have come through it and stayed in the division.
‘Hopefully we can get stronger, the manager gets some funds and we can make a go of it next year.
‘We want to start on a level playing field with sides next season and start aiming towards the top six.
‘The manager won’t let it lie and he will be going for promotion and a better season.
‘We are going to be short again when we come back.
‘I think there is going to be eight or nine players contracted.
‘It’s going to be a rebuilding process.
‘It’s just been a mad season, so, hopefully, the takeover can go through and we can settle it down.
‘The manager can hopefully get some funds and we can get a good squad together.’
Mullins was given his reward for a fine season as he was handed the The News/Sports Mail player of the season award on Monday night.
He has a year left on his current deal and is perfectly happy to remain at the club in what he feels will be a tough division next time around.
Mullins said: ‘I’m contracted here so will be here next season. I’ll be back.
‘It’s a great club and we want to give it a proper go.
‘The most important thing is to get the squad right. If you get the squad right, get a decent bench and find a bit of consistency, we will be up there.
‘We want to be going for promotion.
‘It’s hard in this league because the quality has gone up.
‘I was here four or five years ago with West Ham and the quality wasn’t as high.
‘Teams knock the ball about more now and the quality of play has gone up.
‘It’s a hard division and you have to be consistent every week.
‘It’s something we have to look at and try to achieve next year.’