AWFORD IS MORE THAN ANDY!
Ertl backs legend to land top job
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.
“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.”
BACK IN ACTION: Johnny Ertl has been restored to the Pompey team by caretaker Andy Awford, right