Andy Awford insists he has the characters in his Pompey squad to handle expectations at the club.
Some players have been accused of lacking the mental strength to cope with the demands of playing for Pompey and have struggled to respond, in the face of adversity, during the recent dismal run of form.
But while Awford points out that he has been caught up himself in struggling to adapt to the club’s fall down the divisions, he has total belief his men have the mindset to deal with what is required.
Awford said: ‘It’s simple really. If you can’t handle it, don’t do it.
‘But I haven’t seen players in my team now who can’t handle it.
‘As a group, there are enough characters in there.
‘There are young players that you might have a look at, but there is enough experience to be able to handle it.
‘Maybe they haven’t handled it as well as they could have.
‘We’ve been behind at Fratton a lot this season and got back into games.
‘I think they’ve shown guts at times, but maybe not enough.
‘We’ve got a generation of supporters – me included in that – who have only ever known Championship or Premier League football for 30 years.
‘That’s what we expect – that is the level.
‘But we are a League Two football club now. That is the reality.’
Plenty of Blues fans understand the long-term nature of the project at hand and realise there is no speedy return back up the divisions, but Awford revealed not everyone shares that perspective.
He said: ‘I did an interview this week and someone asked me if it was realistic to get the club back to the Premier League in five years.
‘I was like “Yeah, it’s no problem – let’s throw in a couple of back-to-back promotions and it’s dead easy”.
‘That’s what some people think.
‘Most level-headed people don’t think that.
‘But I’ve been as guilty as anybody of that because we have that expectation of what we’ve been accustomed to at this club. It’s not a criticism.’
While Awford is confident he has the right blend of players at his disposal for Pompey’s latest fight in the basement division, he was also critical of their overall performance this season.
And he didn’t spare himself or his staff from the honest assessment.
‘We’ve all got to do better – every single one of us,’ admitted Awford.
‘I’ve said to the players this week that we have all got to step up. As a group, we haven’t been good enough.
‘Me, the staff and the players – everybody needs to do better.
‘The players haven’t been good enough but we haven’t been good enough as a group.
‘That has to change. We need to do better in everything that we do.’