I’m just glad my club is still alive says Pompey boss Guy
SPOTLIGHT ON A ONCE-GREAT CLUB ABOUT TO BATTLE IN LEAGUE TWO
AS PLAYERS and managers jet off around the world for holidays following another season of trials and tribulations, spare a thought for Guy Whittingham.
The Portsmouth boss is set to be glued to his mobile and running up a phone bill rather than a bar tab this summer as he seeks to rebuild his squad – and fast.
Having ended the season with so many of his first team players on month-to-month contracts Whittingham is hurriedly attempting to swell his ranks ahead of their assault on League Two next season.
The 48-year-old has set the ball rolling by re-signing Patrick Agyemang, Phil Smith and Yassin Moutaouakil.
Three new faces have also put pen to paper at Fratton Park, with Sonny Bradley and Danny East signing two-year deals after leaving newly-promoted Hull, while French midfielder Romain Padovani arrives on the South Coast after being released by Monaco.
But while Whittingham admits bringing in fresh blood is something Portsmouth desperately need, he is not about to leave the club teetering on more finacial trouble.
Overspending got Portsmouth into the mess ended only by Pompey Supporters’ Trust’s takeover in April, and Whittingham insists the club have learnt their lesson.
“I am very busy at the moment on the phone and I doubt I will have much time to put my feet up this summer with a lot of work needing to be done to bring in players,” he said.
“I am constantly on the phone to players and agents and expect to be for some time but it is an exciting time to be honest even though I am very new to it all.
“It is something I have never done before and I am certainly chucking myself into the deep end, but so far I think I have got on well with it and hopefully it stays that way.
“Portsmouth remain an attractive proposition for players and we are finding that a lot want to come and play for the club.
“But what people need to realise is where we have come from and gone through. We will not allow ourselves to get caught up in that again. So while we are looking to bring players in we will stick to a strict transfer policy.
“We are going to be a big club in League Two but we need to remember where we are and how we got here and we need to be realistic.
“There is some rebuilding to be done but we need to keep the ship steady and everything we do will have the future of this great club in mind – the days of overspending are over.
“Everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet and the players that we will bring in will be aware of it, too, but I don’t see it hampering us at all and I am confident we can push on and bring in some real quality even with this in mind.”
With the fans now essentially in control, and the days of being passed through the hands of foreign owners now behind them, the Fratton Park faithful will be looking for the club to begin their ascent up the Football League ladder once more.
And while Whittingham holds out hope of attracting the right type of players to help kick-start this new era, he remains cautious at setting the bar too high after everything that has gone before.
It is hard to make predictions with so few players on the books and Whittingham is not about to give the fans false hope, even if he admits that they share the same ambitions.
“I have a good relationship with the fans and I know they will have their own expectations and that I am responsible for getting the club back up again,” he added.
“That is something I hope for but until the summer is done and a few more players have been signed then targets simply can’t be set.
“We have to be realistic. Yes, promotion is something we would like to think we can have, but if this club is still in the Football League after next season and the ship has been steadied then that will have been a successful season too.
“People will no doubt expect us to climb straight back up but to be honest, just having the club running properly again is success in itself and something for everyone involved to be proud of.”
STAYING: Patrick Agyemang
NEW ARRIVAL: Sonny Bradley
MY CHIME: Former striker Guy Whittingham is the man tasked with rebuilding Pompey
PLAYING ON FOR POMPEY: Yassin Moutaouakil
SIGNED ON: Phil Smith