Pompey boss calls for calm over expectations

Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler
Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler

Andy Awford has urged expectations to be kept ‘real’ as he plots Pompey’s League Two campaign.

The Blues have been installed as joint-favourites to take the title by some bookmakers, echoing last summer’s optimism.

On that occasion it was hopelessly misplaced as the club used three managers before staying up with three matches to spare.

Once again hopes are high among the Fratton faithful of climbing out of the Football League’s bottom division.

Awford has been handed an improved budget and built on a side which ended the previous campaign encouragingly.

But with the season kicking off at Exeter on Saturday, he has called on fans not to get carried away.

‘I am never going to say we will do X, Y and Z but, in all honesty and being realistic, let’s again remember 16 months ago we nearly didn’t have a football club,’ said Awford.

‘We did great at the end of last season, the momentum was like a train, there was nothing stopping us, we were on such a roll.

‘But this is a new season, it’s a fresh season, it’s a different squad and we have to build that again. It’s not just going to click into gear.

‘Realistically, I would like to think we can improve on last year’s 13th spot.

‘If that gets us into the automatic promotion places – great. If that gets us into the play-offs – terrific. But if we just miss out then we will have to go again the season after.

‘All I would say is keep it real because we are still a new football club and we are all learning.

‘The board is only 16 months old, we have a young, inexperienced manager in me and I’m learning, it’s a new squad and they are learning. We are building together.

‘Expectations happen and I understand that – people only get carried away because they want you to do well and it’s for the right reasons.

‘I’m like that as well. I want us to do well also.

‘But part of my job is to keep the realism to it and we will just go about our business quietly, professionally and in the right way, and where it takes us, it takes us.

‘Hopefully that is automatic promotion or the play-offs.’

Last season’s remarkable late surge took the Blues to 13th with 59 points.

Had Plymouth not snatched a last-gasp equaliser in the final game of the season at Fratton Park, Awford’s men would have taken ninth spot.

Now the Blues boss is targeting small steps ahead.

He added: ‘We all want to get promoted, of course we do, but I have to be honest and the first target is 50 points – get 50 points as soon as you can.

‘This isn’t me being dour or party-pooper or anything like that, it’s how I look at it.

‘Your second target is your play-off points, your third target is can you get automatic and we will try to do that in that order. But what I can guarantee is we will give it our absolute best.’