Things might look bleak, but Michael Appleton continues to seek out the positives – even if they are becoming harder and harder to find.
While his best players continue to be auctioned off to keep the crisis club afloat, the Blues boss is still relishing the remaining seven games this month as the odds on keeping Pompey in the Championship continue to be stacked against him.
For Appleton, the fight continues at high-flying Reading tonight and will go on until it is no longer possible to stay up.
He explained: ‘You won’t run me down – you might physically try to do it on the street.
‘Until it’s mathematically impossible for me to stay in this division, and as long as we can put 11 players out and fill our bench and be competitive, then fine.
‘All I would ask from the supporters is to keep backing us right until the bitter end. They have been fantastic.
‘But from my own personal point of view, and probably the players’ as well, I can’t wait for this month.
‘You are in football to play games and I think that’s the best bit about being a manager or a player.
‘In terms of the size of the squad and picking up injuries, there is pressure on the squad.
‘The fact that we have got that many games is an opportunity for myself to actually talk about football – it’s something I enjoy doing.
‘I enjoy pitting my wits against other managers and different teams.
‘So, hopefully, this month I will actually get to do my job, instead of worrying about other issues.’
It’s a mark of Appleton’s upbeat mentality that he makes light of the fact he received a percentage of his wages last week.
He smiled: ‘I actually got paid a little bit of money.
‘Not all of it, but at least we got something.
‘You walk around the place and we’re not feeling sorry for ourselves.
‘Everyone is in a pretty reasonable mood because we actually got paid some of our wages last week, which is better than the past couple of months!
‘Sometimes it’s tough to keep spirits up and I’d love to be here talking about a different scenario, having been in the job three or four months.
‘I’d love to be talking about bringing in five or six new faces and having a bit of money in the pot to get a couple of players before the loan window shuts.
‘But those memories are long, long gone.’
With Pompey five points adrift of safety and in the middle of a six-game winless run, they are now off the bottom of the table only on goal difference.
But Appleton remains defiant on his team’s chances.
He said: ‘I’m honestly not too concerned about the table at the moment.
‘I’m not trying to play any psychological stunts with anyone.
‘What happens in the last couple of games of the season will be really key.
‘We need to make sure we are in and around it and can still attack the teams above us or keep the teams below us further away. If you look at our matches over March and April, we’ve got a few teams around us.
‘If we’re in with a fighting chance around that period, it will put us in a good position to make sure we are still in this division.’