Whittingham: Being away from family is affecting Pompey players

Lee Williamson's family have remained in Sheffield while he has been at Pompey
Lee Williamson's family have remained in Sheffield while he has been at Pompey
Matty Kennedy. Picture: Joe Pepler

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For some, the Marriott Hotel represents home. For others, residence is Champneys in Liphook.

Meanwhile, several members of Pompey’s squad share a house together in Eastleigh.

Such is the existence of footballers whose family life is on pause as they await the club to emerge from administration.

And Guy Whittingham is adamant that instability is impacting on their performances.

With players restricted to month-by-month deals due to ongoing financial restrictions, any aspirations of settling on the south coast have been postponed.

Little point taking the kids out of school and uprooting the family to bring them to this part of the country for the prospect of 31 days.

The result is separation from their loved ones for the vast, vast majority of the Blues’ current 19-man squad.

It is situation Whittingham can empathise with, having endured the same emotional hardships.

The caretaker manager spent eight months in a hotel when he returned for a second Fratton Park spell from Sheffield Wednesday in January 1999.

And with Pompey currently in the League One relegation zone, he believes that same scenario is affecting the current crop of players.

He said: ‘As a player you want to be settled, you want to know where you are. Your home life has got to be good because if it is, then your football is going to be good.

‘It must be strange for some players staying down here away from their family. We all want to be around our family.

‘It is vital for any settled side to have players happy in every environment they are in.

‘They come in to train and they are happy – then they go back to a hotel and, from past experience, I know what that is like.

‘When I came back to Portsmouth on loan, for eight months I stayed in a hotel and it is a strain on your family life because you want to be with them.

‘So I understand how our players feel.

‘At the time we were living north of Birmingham. I had a two-year-old, a four-year-old and a nine-year-old so the wife was doing it all.

‘The wife says “how’s things?” and then starts saying “well, it’s all right for you down there but you should be here”.

‘You want to be with them but the professional thing is to do it right and not travel two-and-a-half hours every day or have a five-hour round trip.

‘I stayed down here in a hotel because it was the right thing to do – and the lads here now are also doing the right thing.

‘You always like to think it doesn’t affect you as a player but I think it would have done.

‘If you have got players not happy in their social life then you don’t quite produce so much at work.

‘Whether it be packing things or on a computer or playing football, that’s life, that’s the way it happens.

‘Lee Williamson’s family are in Sheffield. He is a prime example of it. It has been difficult.

‘When it’s always been your passion you want to do well at it – and to give yourself ample opportunity to do well at it.’