'Lowest point of my career' - Craig MacGillivray opens up on his time on the Portsmouth sidelines

Craig MacGillivray admitted he hit the ‘lowest point’ of his career during his time on the Pompey sidelines.

Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 12:01 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 5:26 pm

The keeper was surprisingly omitted from the Blues’ starting line-up midway through the 2019-20 season.

Arriving from Shrewsbury in June 2018, MacGillivray took over from Luke McGee as first-choice stopper during his maiden campaign at Fratton Park.

He helped Pompey win the Checkatrade Trophy against Sunderland at Wembley – making a crucial save from Lee Cattermole in the penalty shootout – and was ever-present in League One.

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MacGillivray continued as No1 at the start of the following season, with his form earning him a breakthrough into the Scotland squad.

The 27-year-old didn’t make a league appearance for the rest of the campaign, with his subsequent two outings both in the Leasing.com Trophy.

With MacGillivray's form taking no obvious dip, manager Kenny Jackett put his reasoning down to a ‘gut feeling’.

Pompey goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray. Picture: Kieran Cleeves

And speaking to the 27 Podcast, the ex-Walsall man lifted the lad on what it’s been like down the pecking order.

MacGillivray said: ‘A lot of people ask me why it happened.

‘A lot of my early career, I spent a lot of time on the bench. I’d play at Shrewsbury when Dean Henderson was away with England under-21s and play at Walsall when Neil Etheridge was on international duty or got injured.

‘The fact that 18 months later it came around, I was thinking “why?”

‘I’d played 82 consecutive games for the club and found myself out of the team.

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‘I got pulled just before the Gillingham game and got told he (Jackett) was going to play Bassy, which was obviously frustrating.

‘You ask the questions and you get (the answer) he’s had a feeling he wants to change it up.

‘That was literally what was said. He said: “I’m going to play Alex against Gillingham, I’ve just had a feeling. He’s done well in training, that’s my decision and make sure you support him like he’s supported you all this time”.

‘He reinstated he still valued me but just took me out.

‘You’ve got to take it on the chin because you’ve got a game the next day and need to get your head right, because what’s to say Bassy got injured and then you’ve got to play.

‘It’s six months ago now and I can still remember that full month as clear as day.

‘It got to the point where I thought this is actually the lowest point of my career. I’d gone from the highest part two months prior to the lowest part as I was still sat on the bench.

‘I had the national team coach and manager on the phone saying I need to be playing because the Euros were coming up and were asking for the manager’s reasons.

‘I told them there were no concrete reasons. Every time I spoke with the manager, he was very happy about how I’d done for the club and would happily play any one of us.

‘That’s literally all he told me. I went through every goalkeeping department and he told me none were an issue.

‘The national team said I’ll go away with them if they’re playing but can’t justify taking players away if they’re not playing for their clubs.

‘I was sandwiched between two walls and can’t do anything about it.’

MacGillivray admitted he’s been frustrated in his current position but hasn’t had any arguments with Jackett.

He added: ‘I had that conversation and the chat I’ve been in professional football for six year and been on the bench for four of them and don’t want to do it again.

‘The conversations have been very good and there’s been no rowing. That’s not how I work or the manager works.

‘You have a grown-up conversation and then get on with it. But when I asked questions why I was out of the team, I wasn’t given any constructive criticism.’