Gaffer: I don't like the word but Portsmouth players were spineless - and Danny Cowley must have a major summer overhaul

Gaffer for a Day, Brendon Bone, 49, from Bursledon, gives his thoughts on the 1-0 defeat to Accrington that ended Pompey’s League One play-off ambitions.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 8:00 am
Jack Whatmough and Tom Naylor dejected after Pompey missed out on a play-off place. Picture: Joe Pepler

What a disappointing way to finish the season?

Massively. Since Christmas, the season has been teetering on whether we would or we wouldn't be promoted.

But, to be brutally honest, this squad hasn't been good enough for a long time to be promoted and I feel sorry for the fans and for Danny and Nicky Cowley.

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If that was their last audition to keep the job, it wasn't the best way for the players to do them any favours.

It's been the story of the past three years. In the big games, we don't turn up. Against Oxford in the play-offs last season and Sunderland the season before, we didn't turn up.

Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of quality and the biggest blame has to go to Kenny Jackett for the sort of players we've brought in.

We signed arguably the best striker in the division in John Marquis who played with a partner at Doncaster and played him up front on his own.

You can't blame the Cowleys for having to pick up and run with the same players because they're not good enough.

What was your prediction of where Pompey would finish at the start of the campaign?

I think we were aiming for the play-offs again because that's where we've been for the past two seasons. I don't think anyone was realistic enough to think we'd go for automatic promotion.

But we didn't recruit well enough last summer and in January. Covid hasn't helped and the owners didn't want to spend a great deal of money because we're not getting any revenue through the gates.

However, after missing out narrowly last season, the type of players you want to bring in are ones who want to play for the badge. We've fallen woefully short.

There are a lot of players out of contract - how many would you keep?

The only one the club should fight for is Craig MacGillivray, who was my player of the season.

I was a big advocate for Tom Naylor but he hasn't been at the races since Christmas.

I wouldn't be bothered in the slightest if the squad is ripped up. The prerequisite for anyone who plays for his club is giving their heart and soul and we don't have that.

Whether that's endemic of football as a whole or if it's this squad, I don’t know. There isn't enough quality but there was no fight or effort.

In fact, it was spineless. I don't like using that word but it was spineless.

Did Pompey get rid of Kenny Jackett too late and leave the Cowleys not enough time with 12 games left?

It probably should have happened at the end of last season. I know it's difficult because of Covid but if we're being told we're a progressive club, why would you keep the same man if it hasn't worked for three years?

It doesn't make any sense. I know he had another year on his contract and there was no money in the pot but you only get more money by being successful and that was never going to happen.

I don't buy into the conspiracy theories and owners don't buy clubs to stay standing but if you're trusting the board to run this club, you'd have to say a lot of decisions in the past year have been poor.

Giving the Cowleys the opportunity to come in, great. Fair play for them for doing it, but they couldn't affect any change to a degree because it was the same players.

Do the Cowleys deserve to get the job full-time and bring in their own players?

One hundred per cent. If nothing else, we get honesty and passion on the touchline. When they're talking, it's not the same old platitudes as from Jackett.

At least Danny Cowley talks the truth, such as saying we finished the season where we deserved to be.

The fact they took a leap of faith and their reputation has been tarnished a little bit by not getting promoted, we need to give them the opportunity.

What did you make of the decision to bring Jack Whatmough back into the team and drop Sean Raggett?

It's odd when Raggett has started every game this season. If you trust a player enough to play 45 games, why not give him a 46th?

I like Jack Whatmough and think we're going to lose him, he's destined for a higher level, but the two sendings off shown he hasn't learned.

For me, Cowley should have stuck with the team we beat AFC Wimbledon with.

It felt like an odd decision to change a winning team, although it was only one change and the players never looked capable of getting up for the big occasions.

Bendon’s Pompey ratings

Craig MacGillivray – 6

Callum Johnson* – 5

Paul Downing** – 6

Jack Whatmough – 5

Lee Brown – 6

Ben Close*** – 6

Tom Naylor – 5

Marcus Harness – 5

Ryan Williams – 5

Ronan Curtis – 5

John Marquis – 5

*Harvey White – 6

**Jordy Hiwula – 5

*** George Byers – 7