AW­FORD IS MORE THAN ANDY!

Ertl backs leg­end to land top job

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Jamie Holt

JOHNNY ERTL says re­tain­ing Portsmouth’s Foot­ball League sta­tus could be the start of a bright new era at Frat­ton Park – if care­taker boss Andy Aw­ford is given the full-time job.

The 2008 FA Cup win­ners are bat­tling against be­com­ing the first club to drop into Non-League af­ter play­ing in the top flight dur­ing the Pre­mier League era.

It has been a dra­matic fall from grace for Pom­pey, and the sack­ing of Richie Barker at the end of March made it a not-so-mag­nif­i­cent seven man­agers since Harry Red­knapp won at Wem­b­ley less than six years ago.

Barker ac­com­plished just four wins from his 20 matches, but while doom dom­i­nates on the pitch, there is at last some rea­son to cheer off it.

As the club ap­proaches the first an­niver­sary of com­mu­nity own­er­ship, it has been an­nounced they are months ahead of sched­ule in clear­ing their legacy debts owed to 21 for­mer play­ers.

And Ertl be­lieves Pom­pey can fi­nally start look­ing up if they avoid the dreaded drop this sea­son.

“Stay­ing up is huge, we need sta­bil­ity af­ter two ad­min­is­tra­tions and a lot of other stuff,” said Ertl, whose ap­pear­ance in the 2-1 vic­tory over New­port last weekend was his first in two months.

“There’s a fan­tas­tic jour­ney ahead of us but we need to stop the rot.We’ve paid the price for the suc­cess in the past, the fruit that was once on the tree is now rot­ten, now the tree needs chop­ping down and we need to grow it again from zero.

Mo­ti­va­tor

“It might take a bit of time, we needed pa­tience at the start of the sea­son and didn’t get it, we were favourites to go up and it was never go­ing to hap­pen. It takes time to build a team, there were so many new play­ers com­ing in, so let’s set­tle down and grow this club again.

“We need to learn from the past and move on, that’s the most im­por­tant thing. The fans are still here, that’s the part of the club that re­mains, but we need to start again and stay­ing up is key.”

Club leg­end Aw­ford has been handed the task of guid­ing Portsmouth clear of a third suc­ces­sive rel­e­ga­tion.

The for­mer de­fender re­tired in 2000 af­ter spend­ing 11 years at Frat­ton Park and has since held posts as chief scout, academy man­ager, first-team as­sis­tant and care­taker when Guy Whit­ting­ham was sacked in Novem­ber 2013.

And Ertl, who is now Pom­pey’s long­est-serv­ing player de­spite sign­ing only in Au­gust 2012, in­sists Aw­ford’s know-how should not be un­der­val­ued.

“Andy knows the club from its foun­da­tions and we need ev­ery­one pulling in the same di­rec­tion,” he added.

“Andy has been a breath of fresh air, he’s come in and it’s been like an in­jec­tion of con­fi­dence for ev­ery­one.

“He has been with the club for 25 years, he’s knows the club and ev­ery­one in­side out and hav­ing worked with him for two years he’s def­i­nitely the right man, he’s a real mo­ti­va­tor.

“All the things he does are spot on, he’s of­fered a bit of hope.

“He took over in a very dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion, now we all have to show our love for the club. It’s a great club with fan­tas­tic people.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

BACK IN AC­TION: Johnny Ertl has been re­stored to the Pom­pey team by care­taker Andy Aw­ford, right

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