Guy Whittingham believes Pompey have to deliver ‘top-of-the-league’ form to turn their season around.
The Blues caretaker boss has set a target of 40 points from the remaining 25 games of the season – starting against Preston today.
Whittingham has pulled no punches about the size of the task his side face to remain in League One this season.
With a 10-point deduction still hanging over the club, the task to stay up is made all the tougher for Pompey.
But Whittingham believes a healthy return from the busy Christmas period can kick-start a run to survival.
Whittingham said: ‘It’s difficult with 25 games to go. You are looking at probably picking up 40 points (in order to beat the drop).
‘It doesn’t take Einstein to see that that’s top-of-the-league stuff. That’s what we’re aiming for.
‘If you take off 10, that leaves us on 10 points before today’s game. I think 50 points stayed up last season, so that 50-point mark is the one to aim for.
‘We’ve already taken the 10 points off in our minds.
‘It’s no good drawing games, we need to win them as well – especially with the points coming off.
‘If we can win two or three over the Christmas period that 10 points is with us again all of a sudden.
‘That’s what we’re looking to do.’
Pompey go into today’s game with Preston looking to bury their nine-game search for a win.
There’s been cause for optimism on that front, after two encouraging points from tricky trips on the road to Coventry and Tranmere respectively.
As Pompey move towards the half-way stage of a tumultuous campaign to date, Whittingham believes it has been hard to develop a fair assessment of the side’s performances.
But he feels they can draw encouragement from the fact they have rarely been outplayed by any of their rivals so far.
‘If you looked from the outside, you could think Portsmouth aren’t doing very well this season,’ said Whittingham.
‘But then, if you looked at it all off the pitch, you may not think it’s too bad.
‘I think it’s been okay. Okay for the circumstances the club has had to work in.
‘There’s been trying to find players and players signing on month-to-months deals.
‘It’s not really a fair question to ask. We’ve done okay for the situation we’re in.
‘It has to be unprecedented what we have gone through.
‘In games you look at the ones we’ve lost by the odd goal. You think if the team had been together longer, this or that goal may not have been scored.
‘If someone had taken a chance, a game would have been a draw instead of a loss or a win instead of a draw.
‘So there’s always hope and optimism when you’re not getting beaten by two or three goals every week.
‘When it’s close it shows you are not far off.’