'I feel the club hasn’t performed to a standard that is acceptable' - Mark Catlin's honest Portsmouth appraisal
For Mark Catlin, the league table refuses to lie.
In this instance, it undeniably reflects a season in which Pompey have failed to reach ‘acceptable standards’.
The chief executive is justifiably proud of progressive Blues’ league placing in all but one campaign since his April 2013 appointment.
Then, on Sunday, Pompey stumbled with play-off qualification tantalisingly within their grasp – dropping to a deeply unsatisfactory eighth in League One.
Not since the 2014-15 season, when the Blues fell to 16th from the previous year’s 13th in League Two, had such a positional decline occurred.
Catlin told The News: ‘I have always been very proud of the fact that, apart from year two as we exited administration, we have consistently improved on the season before as regards to league position.
‘Last year, because the season was short, we maintained fourth, but then dropped a position due to points per game.
‘It’s clear this season has been a step back, hence the need for change. I am honest about that, I have always been honest and never hide.
‘I am quick to praise when we have done things well, but am also my own biggest critic when I feel the club hasn’t performed to a standard that is acceptable.
‘Ultimately, I am the chief executive – and I take responsibility for that.
‘You can make all the plans, you can look at the team-sheet and convince yourself you’ve built a group of individuals who can form a team to perform better than the season previously.
‘But there is no rhyme or reason, football is not an exact science, some decisions go your way, some go against you.
‘I look at our squad and don’t see a lot wrong with it, yet, for whatever reason, we haven’t performed on the pitch.
‘It just hasn’t been good enough.’
During the first full season of fan ownership in 2013-14, the Blues finished 13th in League Two.
It was quite a recovery considering in March 2014 of that term they were 90th in the entire Football League.
Under Andy Awford, the following season was a 16th finish, with the manager dismissed four matches from the end.
Paul Cook’s arrival in May 2015 yielded sixth during his opening campaign and then, in 2016-17, the League Two title.
Kenny Jackett oversaw Pompey’s first season back in League One with a credible eighth, which offered stability and a play-off challenge until the very end.
Then, in 2018-19, the Blues came fourth with an impressive 88 points, retaining the same position the following year when League One was curtailed.
However, that was then reduced to fifth under the points per game equation, while Wycombe leapt into the play-off spots.
Now 2020-21 shows regression – an eighth spot which equals the May 2018 placing of Jackett’s maiden campaign.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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