The galvaniser who now divides Pompey opinion

Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler

Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler

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There wasn’t the merest suggestion of doubt, no slight hint of head-shaking disapproval.

Well, certainly not among the 51 comments beneath The News’ online confirmation of Andy Awford’s widely-anticipated appointment as Pompey boss.

Give this man 10 years and he will work wonders for our club. Awfs has the vision and my backing,’ stated one post.

Another gushed: ‘Superb news! A 12-month rolling contract is sensible but I think we should consider a more permanent contract say six weeks into the new season.

‘There will be clubs watching his progress with interest… and right now Andy is this club’s biggest asset.’

Or how about: ‘Right decision and very worthy of it… I wish him the very best of deserved luck and am sure he will carry on doing a sterling job.

The date was May 1, 2014, and Awford not only had the seven-man board’s backing for a permanent role as Blues manager.

He clearly had the overwhelming support of the Fratton faithful.

Not unanimous. It would be folly to issue such a claim – it stands to reason some would not be in agreement.

Nonetheless, the vast, vast majority of Blues supporters were demanding the rubber-stamping of the Hall of Famer to the role following an outstanding audition piece.

The natural galvaniser had united the football club he holds so close to his heart, while the chorus of approval was loud, vibrant and music to the Pompey fans’ ears.

Certainly had Iain McInnes & Co headed off in another direction there would have been uproar.

In an era of a self-styled community club, such ignorance could be viewed as treachery.

Welcome Andy… I’m sure you will steer the mighty ship Pompey to new and great horizons. Backing you all the way, it could end up being an enjoyable journey.’

‘Big well done Andy… We can finally look forward and start planning our rise from the ashes.’

Today, the support is fragmented once again, split over its views on Awford – although in agreement this season has been one of wasted underachievement.

The club board’s ambitions pointed to a play-off challenge, the player budget certainly backed such a delicious goal.

Yet the 42-year-old today heads into a crucial period of two home matches battling to convince some sections of supporters he remains the right man.

Burton are the first to visit the south coast, followed by Southend on January 24 – two sides presently occupying League Two’s top six.

Defeat in both really doesn’t bear thinking about for Awford’s future.

No wins in six matches, three victories in 13 games, four triumphs in 20 fixtures, five successes in the last 25 encounters, paint it as you wish.

It cannot be ignored that growing numbers of Pompey followers are calling for Awford’s head as an uninspiring campaign lumbers on.

Yes, towards the same man a city applauded upon his promotion to the Fratton Park helm back in May.

Let’s face it, there was only one candidate, Andy Awford. The future is bright.’

‘Great news. It was like a sack of coal being lifted from our shoulders the moment AA took over the reigns.’

Opinions change. In football they can switch from promotion-chasers in the first half to relegation candidates in the second.

Suddenly this bright, young, enthusiastic manager whose rookie tagline was irrelevant is now criticised over his inexperience.

A person who gloriously ‘got’ the club and was ‘one of us’ is now perceived among some as the epitome of jobs for the boys and a ‘safe’ appointment.

Meanwhile, patience represents endurance – and there’s no time for that in the sprint race that is football.

Although, Wycombe and Bradford are being rewarded for perseverance with their respective bosses.

Still, there are fans who want Awford out, their faith evaporated, their belief destroyed. The board have been called upon to act and name a fourth manager since November 2013.

It means 30 matches into Awford’s reign he is tottering on the ledge.

Definitely good news and well done to Awfs. His appointment gives me great confidence there will be less “Will-o’-the-wisp” player signings and a better focus on getting the team and performances right.’

‘To be honest I haven’t felt so optimistic about the way forward for a long time.’

Of course, it is impossible to accurately gauge the strength of feeling towards the manager

A poll conducted by pompeyonline.com since December 30 indicates 46 per cent of the 200 who voted are in favour of the manager continuing.

A figure of 34 per cent want him removed, with 20 per cent undecided.

The Blues’ average home attendance this season is 15,299 – and therein lies the problem of pinpointing opinion.

‘Still can’t get my head around it how Awfs managed five wins and a 4-4 draw. He was by far the right candidate.’

‘As I see it and as Yazz once sang: The Only Way Is Up!’

The truth is such has been Pompey’s awful form of late, this morning they are slumped in 17th spot – five points off the relegation zone and 11 points off the play-offs.

Not anywhere near good enough.

Considering some of the uninspiring football on display, little wonder some have lost heart.

Opinions may alter, patience can wear thin, demands may intensify.

Yet there was a time when almost every Pompey fan was in agreement Andy Awford was the bright managerial future of the football club.

Let none of us forget that.

Wonderful news. But now he has got it let’s please, please, please properly back him. That means not getting too carried away by our end of season form and expecting domination.’

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