Pompey family break-up as stability is short-lived

Caretaker boss Andy Awford, left, with first-team coach Alan McLoughlin Picture: Joe Pepler
Caretaker boss Andy Awford, left, with first-team coach Alan McLoughlin Picture: Joe Pepler

Vital to plan together in case disaster should strike

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We are a family. We are in this together.The words of Guy Whittingham in his final press conference as Pompey manager on Monday.

From a cubbyhole beside the Fratton End, Whittingham was to give his pre-Southend briefing which was to contain his Blues managerial epitaph.

A couple of hours later he was gone. The phone call he missed in the presser returned and his year’s rolling contract terminated.

Sixteen league games were enough for Whittingham to fall after he assembled a new squad in the summer.

A fair period to be judged? A reasonable time frame to lose your job? Apparently so in this stark-raving bonkers game.

The call a week ago was for cool heads, and for the club to back their appointment. They chose not to.

There’s little doubt they would have made that decision with a heavy heart, and with the ‘that was embarrassing’ chant gainst Scunthorpe ringing in their ears.

This industry is a cut-throat business, and talk of continuity and stability has proved short-lived in the first-team picture at the biggest community-owned club in Britain.

Suggestions the dressing room had been lost amid the recent downturn in form was a nonsense.

Players and staff were spoken to as talk escalated of Whittingham’s departure on Monday afternoon.

Universal horror and revulsion was the response.

Whittingham, with discussions with the League Managers’ Association under way, was keeping his own counsel publicly.

Of course, though, he was crestfallen. Before the Southend game his newly-constructed side were seven points from the play-offs with a game in hand, a third of the way through the season. Hardly panic stations.

Whittingham always knew the buck stopped with the manager.

The hand might not have been the best but the game was still in a winnable position. The nerve failed and those cards have now been folded, however.

So we look to the next hand. But what is clear is Pompey will be knocking around on the same poker table for the forseeable future.

The upheaval a change in manager brings ensures it will be football in the basement division again next season for the Blues.

The process of searching for, and appointing a manager, then clicks a whole chain of events into gear.

Players, staff and footballing philosophies change. Top seven targets will make way for a transitional period.

And there will no shortage of contenders keen to ascend to the Fratton throne to oversee it.

The number of candidates expressing an interest will now be comfortably into three figures. Suitable contenders will be somewhat fewer.

Richie Barker is setting the early pace after leaving Crawley yesterday.

Andy Thorn has submitted his CV, while Martin Allen sits tight for now.

Oxford boss Chris Wilder has had his name circulated.

The call from chief-executive Mark Catlin has been for experience.

We wait to see what the board are looking for from candidates, with Andy Awford and David Connolly already on the inside of the club.

Hawks boss Lee Bradbury and Steve Claridge are other Pompey folk who have been mentioned. Likewise Hermann Hreidarsson and David James as a duo.

Neil Warnock is a favourite choice among fans, with his historical line about managing Pompey for free regurgitated as current.

Warnock appears content on the outside of the game looking in for now.

The Fratton hot seat isn’t for him.

Darren Simmons, and his Football Executives company, will weave an influence in a Svengali-cum-kingmaker position.

It’s a privileged role. But with great power comes great responsibility.