Awford applauds anniversary of Whittingham appointment

Guy Whittingham, left, and Andy Awford, right.

Guy Whittingham, left, and Andy Awford, right.

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For Andy Awford, it was the most difficult of jobs in the most testing of circumstances.

But he believes Guy Whittingham has been ‘fantastic’ during his first year in charge of Pompey.

The Blues boss today marks his anniversary at the helm having initially been appointed on a caretaker basis.

At the time he was joined by Awford, who stepped up from heading the Academy to assist him for the remainder of the campaign.

Last summer Awford opted to return to oversee Pompey youth development, with Steve Allen appointed assistant and Alan McLoughlin becoming first-team coach.

Yet the Hall of Famer knows only too well the size of the task Whittingham took on – and how he has developed as a Pompey manager.

He said: ‘It was a whirlwind, I remember Guy last year pulling me into the office and saying “Awfs, they’ve asked me to take over, I need somebody to give me a hand are you available to do it?”.

‘He’s a mate and we needed to help the club. Everyone was putting their hands to the pump so off we went and had a little adventure for a while!

‘Guy has been at the front of it and has handled himself with dignity, with passion and I think he has done a fantastic job, I really do.

‘He has dealt with everything thrown at him in a Guy Whittingham way – a far better way than I would have done.

‘I would have been shouting and bawling, but Guy has done it and has done a fantastic job.

‘He has also been really supportive of me in the Academy in the second part of his tenure and long may it continue.

‘I hope he is given time – and I am sure he will do – to carry on with the job.

‘I think he has done a wonderful job under really difficult circumstances and it is getting better.’

After a 2-0 defeat at Bury in their first match in charge, the duo didn’t pick up their first win until the 15th match.

That was at Crewe – and then followed a run of results which would see Whittingham earn the job on a permanent basis.

Awford added: ‘It was very tough.

‘I don’t mean this disrespectfully – and I said it to them face-to-face – but the players didn’t understand what was needed out there. They didn’t understand the culture of Portsmouth Football Club, it was very difficult.

‘It wasn’t all their fault, they knew there were problems, it was a very, very difficult time to keep motivating them and they always had one eye looking for the next contract somewhere else because they knew the club was in trouble – and I understand.

‘But once we got players who wanted to play here and be here for the long-term we did okay.

‘The feel-good factor got back around the place and the Sheffield United game at Fratton will go in folklore, that is up there with Stockport for me.’