Date:Monday February 24 2014
It seems very much these days as if there has to be a 'someone to blame' culture with Pompey, quite often a figure(s) are singled out for abuse from the stands of for online abuse.
I am probably as guilty as anyone for this, and perhaps will do exactly that now!
I know that I have been guilty, if that is the right way to put it, of having little else but 'grumbles' to share of late for most of my blogs it seems and cannot recall myself putting pen to paper, of finger to keyboard, for anything that positive of late.
Then again, what exactly is there to be positive about?
I know, I know 'we still have a club'...
I am not saying I am not grateful, but in the main this has been another diabolical season that leaves Portsmouth football club a continued mere shadow of what it once was - I do not mean in terms of league status I mean in terms of how the dark days have ripped the very soul from it leaving it essentially an empty shell, but that is my own thinking and maybe I am alone?
We are sinking to our lowest though without a doubt.
Yep, this season was always going to be hard but it was not meant to be this hard, as soul destroying and disappointing as it has been - the worry is it 'could' get worse still, heaven forbid!
Time for another 'moan and groan' from myself I am afraid...
Shortly after Richie Barker took over as manager he 'went off on one' and really ripped into the players after another poor performance, poor result and a defeat. I cannot remember who it was against, but it was an away game.
I applauded that.
Perhaps it makes me a hypocrite now but I thought that his attack on the players, even if they were poor, at the weekend was completely counter productive and will do little to improve our fortunes and basically was another example of him completely shifting the blame onto everyone else but himself.
Words and phrases 'unprofessional' and 'out of his depth' have been used to describe them, and recent thoughts and actions.
If it has not been 'the players he inherited' that have been the problem it has been the need to 'paper over the cracks of past failings of others', then there was the 'pitches are to blame' for the mind numbingly boring football that we have been served up week after week since his arrival.
Yep, until Saturday, we had been tougher to break down but the 'entertainment' - and after all is that not the aim of football - has been shocking.
I tell you, I take my hat off to those fans that follow Pompey all over the shop these days, I struggle more and more simply to build up the enthusiasm to travel for the home games let along anything else knowing, pretty much, what we will get but to go all over the place to see that 'dross' takes some commitment, or should they be committed!
Was there a need for his 'thinly veiled' attack on Messrs Racon and Barcham?
I can only assume that they are the 'one or two' that he took particular exception too following the weekend defeat, as they were the ones hauled off at half time - not seeing the effort, or lack of, from either player it is difficult to judge but funnily enough, with the players he inherited feeling the most of his 'rage' since he took over, these were among only 4 I think at the club in the starting XI that he did not sign.
He makes it clear that his signings are fine and dandy; it is all the rest... In some instances he might have a point mind.
In many ways, if the players he took on really are that poor or not, I cannot think the 'players being poor' can be too much of an excuse these days as he has brought in enough, and uses enough regularly, to dispel that myth as it is 'his team' now.
I do think that you have to be tough to be a manager, and sometimes be ruthless, but there is 'tough' and then there is 'a bully' and Barker seems to be the latter and even if some 'tough love' does not always hurt I think we all pretty much know that this does not wash in the modern era of football and 'man management' plays a bid part, and you would have to question his quality in that area as he does not seem much of a people person.
You have a bunch of players, that YOU as the manager have to motivate and have to inspire to go out and do the business - they are big enough and ugly enough to look after themselves and should be professional enough to go out of the pitch and do what they are meant to but when you have your manager sounding off every day about, basically, how crap they are and that he had better players at previous clubs (with all due respect to Bury and Crawley I think I might question that one) with him looking to make 'big summer changes', even if you might think that some would look to take this as inspiration to perform in the main it will leave most thinking 'up your pal' as it is hardly inspiring to get them motivated is it.
Barker's brand of football is shocking, it is the most negative and depressing I think I have ever seen us play and I despair at the thought of another season of that, but sadly I am not sure that we would see much else but this.
The players need to take a long hard looks at themselves, they definitely do, but so does the manager and instead of blaming every man and his dog apart from himself maybe he needs to start taking some of this too and most definitely STOP mouthing off to the News several times a day, sometimes saying nothing at all is the better part of valour.
We need some continuity with the club, we cannot keep chopping and changing every 5-minutes with a new squad assembled and dismantled every season and need to build something long-term with a steady manager in place but I would be lying if I now thought that Barker was 'the right man' for the job as things stands and dare say that plenty of others would be thinking the same if they were completely honest?
A 'degree of improvement' has been seen as far as how tough we are, on the whole, to break down, but if anyone can really hand on heart say that there has genuinely been the improvement 'expected' upon Barker's arrival I would be surprised and would have to question that.
As things stands if the 'big summer changes' involved Richie Barker leaving Fratton I would not be opposed to this - fortunately he just has a 'rolling contract', maybe that can be 'reviewed' in the summer?
Not only does he have to do some serious man management work now and politely tell the News to back off as these constant sound bites are doing little to help anyone on the whole at the moment he also needs to start getting us playing some proper football.
Doing that will not only win over the fans, for the support that is needed to see us through this season but to entice them back in the next one, but it will also be the only way we will stay up - at the moment we are 'safe' but if we keep playing negative, unimaginative and unadventurous football we will be right back in the relegation quagmire before we know it only this time we will be sucked into the bottom 2 and then, as I have said before, this mentality of 'playing football' will not be the one to get us out of it, particularly if the players are already finding it hard to play for a manager that has made it clear he does not rate too many of them and probably does not want too many of them around next season anyway.
Victory against Accy Stanley tomorrow night will make things better, but it will by no means make everything right.
Defeat and we will take a giant step, depending on other results in many ways of course, towards the abyss of non-league football...
PLAY UP POMPEY!
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Date:Monday February 24 2014
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