Blues playing to same tune as last

Johnny Ertl is enjoying playing the holding-midfield role for Pompey
Johnny Ertl is enjoying playing the holding-midfield role for Pompey

Johnny Ertl believes Pompey are singing from the same song sheet at last.

And the Blues captain has called on his team to continue their gritty, organised approach as they go to Oldham tomorrow.

Ertl feels Pompey are starting to find some rhythm as a result of there being some semblance of stability on the pitch.

Caretaker boss Guy Whittingham’s side face a team currently causing a stir in the FA Cup, after dumping Liverpool out of the competition and holding Everton in the fifth round last Saturday.

But it remains a key League One clash for the Blues as they hit the road to meet an Oldham team sitting on the cusp of the drop zone.

Ertl is upbeat about Pompey’s prospects after two consecutive draws ended their nine-game losing run.

And he feels the fact his team-mates are all playing the same tune is key to their recent upturn in fortunes.

‘We’re building a team spirit,’ said Ertl.

‘It has been really difficult because there has been a lot of players come in.

‘If you are playing in the band and your bass player leaves and gets replaced by someone, you can’t go straight into a gig because you might struggle.

‘This is the same as football.

‘If a new striker comes in, I don’t always know their movements.

‘But we try to work it out and have a chat about what we will do in certain positions. We are well prepared for other teams now.

‘Oldham have achieved in the FA Cup and that is great. I was buzzing for them on Saturday.

‘We’re up for it, though, and we can build on our two good results.

‘We are fighting but this is our new game and a new chance for us. We have been working hard on set-pieces and not conceding goals.

‘We had been dropping deeper and deeper and getting too deep..

‘So now we stay up and make sure everyone knows their job.

‘Everyone is taking their responsibility.’

Ertl himself is now in the midst of his most consistent run of form since joining Pompey on a free transfer in August.

A lack of pre-season training slowed his progress back then, as well as being in and out of the side.

But Ertl has found himself a niche in the Blues’ starting XI, operating in a holding-midfield role.

The 30-year-old feels that’s where he is best suited – and he is producing his top form as a result.

‘The holding-midfield position is my best,’ he said.

‘I like to break up play and let everyone else play. That is my best position.

‘It’s about being comfortable in positions, and I do feel that where I am right now, I’m able to put my stamp on the game there.

‘At the start it was quite difficult for me.

‘I had a fitness coach but was missing my daily routine, so it was like being thrown into cold water.

‘I didn’t know what was going on, but now my performance level has increased.

‘I think I have been able to get to know the community and also Awfs (Andy Awford) and Guy – and that has helped me.

‘We are putting the effort in for a better future.’