Richie Barker admitted he doesn’t care if he has dented the pride of his Pompey players and told fans: You will always get my honest opinion.
The Pompey boss’ man-management style came under scrutiny in the aftermath of the heavy defeat to Scunthorpe, after he tore into his players by questioning their desire and mental strength in the wake of the 5-1 loss.
While some managers often choose to keep their criticism behind the closed doors of the dressing room, Barker clearly has no qualms in expressing his opinion in public.
And ahead of tonight’s crucial League Two clash with Accrington Stanley, he stands by his views and expects a reaction from the same players he criticised so forcefully in yesterday’s News.
‘I’m not going to tell lies – I will be honest,’ said Barker.
‘I can’t believe that anybody expected me to come out and say it was all okay after we lost 5-1.
‘People would say “he’s not telling the truth”.
‘I’ve defended my players before and when they need defending, I will defend them.
‘I can’t defend people who don’t deserve to be defended. I’m not going to do that.
‘We had a good few hundred fans who paid good money and travelled all that way to Scunthorpe.
‘They deserve the truth and the truth was that it wasn’t good enough.
‘Now I expect the players to react and bounce back.’
The manager’s comments represent another test of character for those in the Pompey first-team squad.
But Barker revealed he was even more critical of the players to their face in the away dressing room immediately after the defeat at Glanford Park.
He said: ‘I was more harsh in the dressing room. It was a watered down version I gave in interviews.
‘I’m sure they read a few harsh words after the weekend. If they are demotivated by reading a newspaper article, it wasn’t anything that I didn’t say to them.
‘They will not have woken up and read the paper and then said “I didn’t know he thinks that”.
‘They knew it again on Monday morning.
‘If you can’t handle it, go and do something else.
‘If they weren’t hurting the way I was hurting, they are in the wrong game or playing for the wrong person and the wrong club.’
It’s a bullish attitude from Barker who is eager to set the highest possible standards.
But it does present the risk of alienating players he needs to play for him over the remainder of the season.
Barker added: ‘Some of the players aren’t good enough and we are papering over the cracks.
‘I could have stood there and said “weren’t we unlucky. The first goal was deflected and everything else.”
‘The standard here isn’t very high – or the standard I inherited wasn’t very high. My standards are a lot higher.’