Danny Hollands has accepted his own share of the blame for the departure of Andy Awford.
The Pompey midfielder believes he is one of several players who have not reached the standards required that would have seen the club mounting a League Two promotion challenge this season and kept the former boss in a job.
Some squads might be a bit deluded. But I think everyone in our squad will be open and honest enough to admit that we haven’t achieved what we should have this season.Danny Hollands
Instead, it is mid-table mediocrity and a 1-0 defeat at Stevenage did little to raise the spirits, despite an improved second-half display.
But instead of shifting blame or looking for scapegoats, Hollands offered a refreshingly honest appraisal and feels there are plenty of players who have simply underachieved – himself included.
Hollands said: ‘As players, we’ve got to take some of the flak as well
‘Some squads might be a bit deluded.
‘But I think everyone in our squad will be open and honest enough to admit that we haven’t achieved what we should have this season.
‘We know that and it’s disappointing.
‘For whatever reason, we haven’t done it but I don’t know what the reasons are.
‘Once we go over the white line, it’s our fault as players.
‘But off the pitch, the manager has to do what he thinks is best.
‘It’s a bit of all of us, I think.
‘I think I have underachieved, the same as some of the other players, which is bitterly disappointing.
‘All I can do is try to put things right.
‘You don’t mean to go out on the pitch and play badly or make mistakes. But it happens because we are human.
‘Obviously, there is frustration because the fans have travelled thousands of miles over the course of the season and they have been fantastic.
‘What they give us deserves to be higher than we are.’
While the former Bournemouth man anticipated a normal day at the training ground on Monday, it soon became apparent that was not the case as Awford’s reign was ended.
Hollands said: ‘We came in as normal, but then there was a meeting and the gaffer told us he was leaving.
‘It’s never nice to hear that and we were all disappointed for him.
‘Obviously, you feel that we could have done more and we haven’t achieved what we wanted to achieve this season.
‘The older you get and the more clubs you have been at, you know the procedure.
‘But a few of the young lads here had him as their Academy manager and he brought them through and gave them their chance.
‘He loves the club and everyone knows that.
‘He also brought me to the club and I want to wish him all the very best for the future.
‘It’s part and parcel of football.
‘You never want anyone to lose their job but the decision has been made.’
Hollands was also left to rue another early goal, which turned out to be the only goal of the game as the Blues went down to defeat.
He said: ‘To concede an early goal again is a major disappointment but after that, I thought we were the better team.
‘It was harsh on us to come away with nothing.’