Darel Russell lifted the lid on a explosive Pompey dressing room in the aftermath of their dismal 2-0 defeat at Bury and declared: Now it’s time for action.
The 32-year-old midfielder returned to the Blues starting line-up after his recent lay-off with a hamstring strain but was unable to inspire Guy Whittingham’s men to deliver anything like an impressive performance at Gigg Lane.
While Russell is one of the more vocal characters in the first-team squad and has built his reputation at clubs like Norwich City and Stoke, it’s clear he was unhappy with the efforts of some of his team-mates as they succumbed far too easily against a limited Bury side.
But after clear-the-air talks and reports of some angry exchanges between the players, Russell believes Pompey will now see the kind of characters they have in their ranks.
He said: ‘We’ve all had words in the changing room.
‘We’ve laid our cards on the table and now it’s not about words – we will do it on the field.
‘It’s just a case of being honest with each other.
‘It’s not the words that are said.
‘It’s when things are not said that it causes the biggest problem.
‘There were a few issues and when you clear the air, it’s a good thing.
‘I have been too vocal at times and probably was too vocal when I got myself booked for dissent.
‘But winning is everything to me and I feel we should all want to do that.’
With the departure of boss Michael Appleton during the week, Russell felt some Pompey players wrongly used that as a reason behind another poor performance.
And it’s reassuring that there are those who do actually care enough to try to set things right under caretaker duo Whittingham and Andy Awford, with Pompey sliding towards the League One relegation zone at an alarming rate.
‘We’re disappointed by the result but it’s one of those situations where we can make as many excuses as we want to make. But the bottom line is that when we go out there and cross the line, we are out there to win games,’ said Russell.
‘I don’t think we seemed to have that full passion directed in the right way.
‘I can’t affect those situations when a manager leaves. The only thing I can do is what I do when I go out there on the pitch.
‘Perhaps some of the other lads look at things in different ways.
‘I can understand that it’s an easy reason – not an excuse – for not being in the right frame of mind with the manager leaving this week.
‘But the situation is what it is, so you have to work with it and move forward.
‘This club has had enough twists and turns to know about it.
‘I think you should relish it, to be honest.
‘How many times have we seen managers leave and then the team go out and win their next game?’
He added: ‘Footballers can be very fragile at times. Some need the arm around their shoulder and some need a rollicking.
‘I’m coming from the back end of the old school and I respond more to a rollicking because I want to prove people wrong.
‘It’s a case of us as a club proving people wrong now in the situation we are in.’