Wilson’s Wisdom: Lack of job security prevents Awfs going for broke

Matt Tubbs in action as Pompey failed to beat 10-man Accrington. Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Tubbs in action as Pompey failed to beat 10-man Accrington. Picture: Joe Pepler
Nathan Thompson. Picture: Sarah Standing

Pompey looking for history to repeat in cup

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If some of us normally drink from half-full glasses, as far as Pompey are concerned, some of them were left empty at Accrington Stanley.

The problem wasn’t that Pompey failed to beat a team who played with 10 men for much of the second half.

The problem was they didn’t look like beating them.

Football can change quickly, as we all know.

A couple of quick wins might make that point at the Crown Ground look a whole lot better than it felt on the day.

Andy Awford has come in for some stick for his substitutions at times this season.

But he probably hasn’t got enough credit for the times he has got it right.

Trailing 2-0 at home to Tranmere, he went for it and risked a battering if it had all gone wrong.

That evening, it all came good as Pompey fought back for a remarkable 3-2 win with all of their strikers on the pitch.

At Accrington, it was rather more guarded and ended in a 1-1 draw.

On the face of it, the result wasn’t a disaster but, unfortunately, Pompey are playing catch-up and need wins.

They aren’t protecting a place to stay above challengers.

The changes the manager made at Accrington didn’t seem risky.

Yes, they were attacking changes but still within the regular framework of the team.

Pompey had plenty of the ball, as you would expect with a numerical advantage, but they didn’t do enough with it and struggled to create opportunities.

After today, Pompey have 10 games of the League Two season remaining.

There are 30 points left to play for and, on the face of it, Pompey have nothing to lose.

They are just a few points from the 50-point safety mark and it’s hard to see how they will get dragged into a relegation scrap now.

Their focus should be on the teams above them – and on the top seven.

It’s a long shot to find the kind of form required for a late surge but it’s not impossible to close the gap.

The problem seems to be that Awford does not see his position as manager as secure enough for him to be able to take those types of gambles in games.

Last season his remit was to keep Pompey up and, while he was under intense pressure to do that, he must have known at the back of his mind he was not to blame if he failed.

That outlook allowed him to be more bold in his approach and to take a few risks.

He knows he will be judged at the end of the season and, even if Pompey miss out on the play-offs, he is hoping he can point to progress from last season’s 13th place.

Awford may anticipate consequences of defeats over the final 10 games, he can also convince some of his doubters with a few wins and some attacking freedom.

Aside from ensuring he will be in the post next season, a late winning run could yet have a bigger impact on the entire club.

Of course, it’s easy for me to tell him to go for it, though. It’s not my job on the line.