Michael Appleton vowed not to surrender to the wage demands of his Pompey targets and insisted: It’s time to be realistic.
The Blues boss has no intention of letting the payroll spiral out of control under his reign as he closes in on his summer recruits.
Kelvin Etuhu and Marko Futacs both recently turned down contracts – choosing instead to seek better terms elsewhere.
Similarly, others have also rejected a Fratton Park switch since the end of last season in preference of alternative destinations.
The current £9.5m wage bill is a massive millstone around the club’s neck and continues to threaten its future.
Administrator Trevor Birch is presently trying to drive it down to around £4m – still remarkably high for a League One outfit.
In the meantime, Appleton has pledged to handle the payroll with care this summer in his pursuit of new signings.
He said: ‘Kelvin and Marko have not accepted the offer of contracts.
‘Such is life but we move on.
‘At the end of the day, Kelvin was not happy with terms offered to him.
‘They were really competitive for League One, however.
‘Players have got to be realistic.
‘We are not a Premier League club and we are not a Championship club – we are a League One club with a fantastic fanbase.
‘We cannot afford to make the same offers and that is the simple fact of the matter everyone must understand.
‘While I am manager I will not be paying big wages in League One.
‘It is about doing my job correctly and that is what I intend to do.
‘Regardless, I still intend to make us very, very competitive in League One.
‘I won’t criticise others. As a manager, if you think you can squeeze a little bit of money off the chief executive then of course you will try.
‘We all want to do our best and I am realistic to know that sometimes you are in a different situation at clubs.
‘At the moment this is a unique situation.
‘What I might do is pay a little bit extra to a goalscorer but he is going to get you 20-odd goals and get you promotion.
‘Everyone else makes a contribution in the team but you need somebody to score a goal. That is a fact.
‘When I sit down with a player’s representative I make an offer which is right for this club. If that is the only thing he is interested in then I would be worried.’
Etuhu signed for Barnsley on a one-year deal rather than the two-year offer tabled by the Blues.
This after the midfielder had consistently told Appleton he wanted to remain at Fratton Park.
And Pompey’s manager is disappointed over how his time on the south coast ended.
He added: ‘Good luck to Kelvin and we move on.
‘He didn’t tell me he was not staying, which is a bit disappointing.
‘I suppose that is the modern day in doing things. What can you do?
‘It will be interesting how that pans out.
‘But there will be other players who will do the job.’