Guy Whittingham has promised Johnny Ertl he will remain his Pompey skipper for the onslaught on League Two.
The 30-year-old Austrian this week signed a deal to keep him at Fratton Park for the next three years.
It is another massive boost for the Blues, who have also tempted fellow big performers from last season, David Connolly and Patrick Agyemang, back to the club.
Whittingham is convinced the captaincy was the making of Ertl last season after an unspectacular start to his Pompey career.
Having been handed the armband on New Year’s Day at Swindon, instead of the injured Brian Howard, the former Palace man revelled in the responsibility.
Ertl went on to keep the honour and overwhelmingly win the fans’ vote for The News player of the season award.
And his Blues boss has every intention of keeping him in the role.
‘Johnny ended up being our player of the year but up until he was made captain it was an indifferent season for him,’ said Whittingham.
‘He had never held down a regular place and when I took over in November I used him as a centre-half and midfielder.
‘The decision to choose him as captain, though, proved to be a good one because we were looking for that solid central-defending midfield player. He became that and took the responsibility very well.
‘Brian Howard was very good around the changing rooms, but Johnny was good around the changing rooms and was everywhere on the football pitch as well.
‘His performances led by example. The way he conducted himself throughout the whole period was excellent.
‘He was the one who day in, day out came in with a smile on his face, was energetic and looking forward to things in the future – right from day one when I took over.
‘He was good to have around the camp and it was important to have somebody like that doing his best every single game.
‘Johnny had the enthusiasm needed for us at a very difficult time in December and January. It wasn’t good. He rose to the top in that period. And I will keep him as captain for this season because he remains the right man for the job.’
Ertl began his captaincy reign by featuring at centre-half for two matches.
But he was soon moved into his preferred central-midfield position – and the quality displays flowed.
He epitomised the gutsy second half of the season which resulted in Whittingham being given the manager’s job permanently.
And those qualities have proven priceless to the Pompey boss.
Whittingham added: ‘There are lots of contributing factors why Johnny’s performances improved.
‘I think it helped towards raising his game by the fact the team was stable, results started picking up, confidence gets a little bit higher, all sorts of things add to it.
‘But I think the extra responsibility really benefited him.
‘His positive outlook was certainly needed at the time because confidence was low around the place – and he was one of those who brought things back to where they should have been.’
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