Guy Whittingham held his hands up after Pompey’s Pride Park pasting and admitted: We all have to take responsibility.
The Blues suffered their fifth straight defeat on their travels on Saturday, with Derby’s first-half demolition job ensuring Pompey’s seven-month wait for an away win continues.
Goals from Craig Bryson and Chris Maguire in the opening 15 minutes, plus Jamie Ward’s well-executed third just after the half-hour mark, meant Pompey went into the break in the east midlands well and truly on the ropes.
A rejuvenated second-half performance and a Jason Pearce goal with 11 minutes remaining restored some pride for the visitors.
But the damage had already been done, leaving Pompey without an away-day victory since the 1-0 triumph over Leicester on March 19.
Pompey were disappointed with their efforts to halt their worrying away form on Saturday, particularly in the first half.
But in a show of unity, joint-caretaker boss Whittingham admitted everyone – including himself and fellow managerial colleague Stuart Gray – was to blame as the Blues failed to cope with the early Derby onslaught.
He said: ‘You prepare how you feel is best – that’s as a staff and as players – but clearly we didn’t get it right.
‘We’ve all got to take collective responsibility for that.
‘We didn’t get it right because we didn’t start the game properly.
‘We didn’t keep that clean sheet for the opening 15-20 minutes which is so important away from home.
‘We conceded two in the first 15 minutes and you can’t do that and get away with it.
‘The game plan was to go there, try to be positive and try to win the game.
‘But on the flip side, we had to make sure we didn’t lose our shape at the back and that’s what was disappointing.
‘Saying that, though, in football you defend together and you attack together.
‘We didn’t defend well enough as a team in the first 20 minutes.
‘It wasn’t to be and, as I said, to go 3-0 down is poor from the whole team and the staff who set them up.’
Former Pompey striker Whittingham added he feared the worst as Derby produced a menacing opening 45 minutes.
A much-improved Blues performance in the second half – and Pearce’s first goal for the club – relieved that anxiety.
But Whittingham was refusing to take the credit for the change in fortunes.
He said: ‘In a way, they (the players) didn’t need a me or Stuart saying anything to them at half-time. The players knew we had to go out and take some pride from the second half performance and make sure we got back into the game.
‘They did that by going out and performing how they should have performed in the first half.
‘We scored in the second half and they didn’t.
‘But it’s that first-half performance that let us down. We left it too late to get a result.
‘It would have been nice if the goal had come in the first 10 minutes but it didn’t.’