Paul Walsh’s brutal Pompey honesty offers real football insight

Paul Walsh scoring against Manchester United in the League Cup in 1994
Paul Walsh scoring against Manchester United in the League Cup in 1994
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There is honesty, there is brutal honesty and then there is Paul Walsh’s brand of honesty.

Two spells as a player at Pompey between 1992 and 1996 marked him out as a genuine fans’ favourite during his time at Fratton Park.

But it’s fair to say he’s not universally popular with everyone around these parts these days after some barbed comments aimed at the club’s board over the sacking of former team-mate Alan McLoughlin last season.

Joining from Spurs in 1992 as part of the Darren Anderton deal, the former Luton and Liverpool man struck a chord with his work ethic and his technical ability alongside McLoughlin, Mark Chamberlain and the prolific Guy Whittingham in a memorable 1992-93 season that ended in play-off defeat.

Just as he voiced his opinion in such strong terms about his former club last term, Walsh doesn’t sugar-coat anything about his move south.

And that theme continues throughout his entertaining autobiography Paul Walsh: Wouldn’t It Be Good.

Walsh said: ‘I can’t be bothered trying to make myself look good when I wasn’t.

‘I just told the truth and the facts of what actually happened.

‘You read some books where players go “Oh, the fans were great and this and that”. It’s not real, they don’t want to upset anyone. What’s the point?

‘Maybe I should have done that and it would sell a few more books in Pompey!

‘If you are a Pompey fan, you might think “he didn’t even want to come here”. That is the truth.

‘But before I moved, I didn’t know how much I was going to enjoy it.

‘I’ve read people on Twitter saying I have had a dig at Pompey – I don’t do that.

‘If people can’t work out that I had eight years at Liverpool and Tottenham playing at the top level and didn’t initially want to come to Portsmouth, then that’s up to them if they don’t get that.

‘I’d been playing for two big clubs, so then I came down, the showers didn’t work and I was going home with mud on my knees after training.

‘But I’d made the decision to come and that was the end of it.

‘And I don’t think anyone could accuse me of not running around and giving it a go when I was there.

‘I gave it my best. I could gloss over it all but I don’t see the point in that. If people then take it the wrong way, then that’s up to them.

‘That first year, I loved every minute of it and I ended up loving it at Pompey. That is the honest truth.

‘I got to pre-season training, worked my socks off and although I was ill to start with, I started to play a bit after that.

‘I think people enjoyed me being there and I loved the fans loving me.

‘The fans were great with me.

‘It’s only now and you always get a couple of idiots on Twitter who think I have had a dig at Pompey in the book or since I stopped playing.

‘I think that started when I was asked about Alan McLoughlin being sacked. I got mixed up in all of that but I meant every word of what I said. I still do.

‘There were a few numpties on Twitter having a go.

‘I’ve been wearing glasses for two years but now I have started wearing them on Sky. The amount of abuse you get just for that is unreal. Twitter is a coward’s forum for total idiots at times.

‘Anyway, I was just trying to explain to punters what goes on at a football club.

‘I saw that Andy Awford had to come out in public and say it was his decision to get rid of Macca. I knew that wasn’t the case.

‘There are games that go on in the background of any football club.’

While some footballer’s autobiographies can be tedious, Walsh bucks that trend simply because it is littered with juicy tales and the reality of the football world.

And aside from what seems like his genuine affection for Pompey, he goes into depth on his spells with his former clubs.

It also tells the story of some of his punch-ups and rows along the way – in case you didn’t already know, he can be a spiky character.

‘I did have a few scraps,’ said Walsh.

‘I had one with Guy Butters in training at Portsmouth when he came through the back of me twice. I had another one with Ray Clemence – although that was only one punch – and a few others along the way.

‘That aggressive mentality can get the better of you in the wrong moments but I think you need that edge and was probably a big part of my game as well.

‘In a more mature frame of mind, you probably wouldn’t have done those things.

‘It’s too late now, though, isn’t it?’

It’s perhaps some welcome relief for chairmen everywhere that Walsh is perfectly happy with his work for Sky Sports and has no plans to go into management.

He added: ‘Football has been my whole life and I wanted to stay in it when I first got injured.

‘There was talk about me becoming first-team coach under Terry Fenwick but then Terry Venables turned up and that was never going to happen because we’ve got history.

‘Management wouldn’t have suited me. I would have been rolling around having a fight with a chairman in the boardroom trying to strangle him!’

Paul Walsh: Wouldn’t It Be Good. RRP £16.99, only £11.99 on sportmediashop.com 0845 143 0001.