Basketcase days are gone so embrace stability

Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler
Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler

Lee Clark made the call to Andy Awford on Sunday.

The Birmingham boss, who was sacked 24 hours later, knew his fate was coming at St Andrews.

But he still found time to call his old pal, whose friendship, which stretches back to their England under-21 days, endures.

Awford had been plunged into what he himself described as ‘a difficult couple of days’ in the wake of the low watermark of the season at Bury.

Being buffeted by the winds along Southsea seafront in some last-ditch Great South Run training, allowed the Pompey boss the thinking time he needed in the wake of the Gigg Lane collapse.

It prompted some of the most significant surgery on his team in a season which has, rightly or wrongly, become associated with match-to-match change.

The faces contorted with anger who aimed their flak in the Pompey boss’ direction in the wake of Saturday’s defeat, were noted.

It followed the smattering of boos which peppered an overall mooted response from home fans in the face of the draw with Mansfield.

We are told there is no such thing as a must-win game, unless it’s a defining fixture. That’s exactly what the Stevenage clash felt like for a man going into his biggest game of the season, if not his time in the Fratton Park hotseat.

The average tenure for a manager in the Premier League now is less than two years, such is the crazy world of football.

Pressure for instant results and success create that stark raving bonkers pressure-cooker environment.

Tuesday’s meeting with Graham Westley’s side arrived seven months after Awford came into the job – and in his team’s 14th league game.

The axe fell on Guy Whittingham after 16 league fixtures with Richie Barker seen as the man to improve things. He made it to 20.

So the managerial turnaround hasn’t reflected the stability Pompey are now beginning to enjoy.

The hysterical catcalls from some supporters to results contributes to the heat rising.

Some older Pompey fans put it down to the generation who grew up watching Premier League football growing agitated.

Others would simply point to a poor run of results.

Whatever the contributing factors, the angst has been palpable.

The tirade Awford launched at the fourth official on Tuesday night, in the wake of a nip-and-tuck decision over Borough keeper Chris Day handling outside the area, said it all.

And, just as the apprehension was felt on Tuesday, so was the relief in the aftermath of victory.

This was about as typical an advert for League Two football as you will ever get. Pretty is was not.

But if ever a three points were more important than the spectacle for Awford, this was the time.

Mrs Awford tells her hubby his biggest strength is his biggest weakness: His confidence.

There’s a difference between confidence and arrogance, though.

Awford isn’t too arrogant to change things when needed.

Not all his predecessors can say the same thing.

A back-to-basics approach was borne out of a desire to ensure players were left in no uncertain terms about their duties. It worked.

It’s clear enough this is still a Pompey team in search of its identity, in a league where inconsistency is the one constant.

After a run of seven managers in five years, this club is no longer the ‘basket-case’ that stat was used to reinforce, though.

Clark’s former employers at St Andrews seem keen on that moniker these days.

It’s stability, in all areas, we need to embrace around these parts.