Sad to see such short memories among Pompey fans

Johnny Ert. Picture: Joe Pepler
Johnny Ert. Picture: Joe Pepler

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It was seven months ago he joined a long line of illustrious Pompey heroes.

Mark Hateley, Alan Knight, Darren Anderton, Paul Walsh, Linvoy Primus, Peter Crouch and David James are some of the greats to be named The News’ Pompey player of the year.

And, on a day to savour in the spring sunshine, Johnny Ertl became one of that elite group as Sheffield United were sent packing on the first day of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust era.

It was reward for a year of committed performances from the Austrian international – a loyal and dependable on-the-pitch constant in a season of turmoil.

Fast forward to the Lamex Stadium on Saturday – and it was increasingly apparent how short some people’s memories are.

There was a vaguely comical air to the groans of discontent aimed at Ertl from some members of Pompey’s online community.

They were following the FA Cup clash with Stevenage via The News’ Pompey Live runner.

A few comments at the make-up of the side were registered early on after Ertl was recalled.

They intensified once news of Francois Zoko’s 11th-minute opener were relayed, however.

‘Ertl and Yassin OUT!’ screamed one post.

‘Ertl is not good enough for League Two, let alone a League One side,’ came another.

And then, my personal favourite: ‘Well defended Ertl – get him out’.

The fact he was pinpointed among the eight Pompey players who were in the box when Zoko fired home was revealing.

And the poster came to that conclusion without being given details of how the goal was conceded. Impressive foresight.

The fact is, Ertl has been a long way from his best this season.

And the club’s skipper will be the first to admit that.

Never a man to dodge an uncomfortable issue, the 30-year-old has already indicated he hasn’t hit his previous consistency.

But quite how a player who was voted as Pompey’s best in League One is suddenly not good enough for League Two, I’m not quite sure.

Guy Whittingham had enough faith in him to make him one of the two players to be handed three-year contracts in the summer.

Part of his appeal is his conduct off the pitch.

He is the perfect man to embrace the ethos of Pompey becoming the UK’s biggest fan-owned club.

But nobody should forget his effectiveness at breaking up play.

And it’s not as if Ertl is unique in his position of being a Pompey grafter, who places perspiration above inspiration.

There have been countless similar players down the years.

Whittingham paired Simon Ferry with Thery Racon against Exeter – as he opted for silk over steel. It worked.

But, as the Pompey boss himself intimated, a home game against a team short on height who place a heavy accent on passing, offered the perfect platform to do so.

Would the same approach have worked against Stevenage, who present a physical challenge?

An appealing, creative footballing philosophy may be the way to go moving forward.

But to dismiss the role Ertl has, and can continue to play, is both short-sighted and forgetful.