Happy New Year?

Last updated : 04 January 2015 By Jim Bonner

Looking back at 2014, it was another disappointing year in the history of Portsmouth Football Club.

When asking a fellow fan what their biggest highlight of the year gone by was, he replied "the launch of this season's new home kit" which tells you all you need to know about Pompey's 2014.

Whilst the new home kit drew praise from various quarters for its design it's not what you call a conventional highlight as opposed to other events that happened on (and off) the pitch. My personal highlight was seeing Andy Awford take over in March and save the club from relegation to non-league.

However, as said fellow fan pointed out, the decision to appoint Awford may well become one of 2015's lowlights if he should be sacked for failing to deliver what the board expect of him this year.

Indeed, it was his team that delivered what was probably the biggest low point of 2014 for me, personally, when his team were unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup by Aldershot Town which meant Pompey were knocked out of the famous competition by non-league opposition for the first time in its history.

Whilst that may be the stand-alone lowlight of 2014, nothing will ever compare to the nightmare that was Richie Barker's reign as Portsmouth manager.

I wasn't around in the "dark days of the 70's" so Barker definitely goes down as the worst manager in Pompey history. Some of his team's performances were atrocious, especially away from home, and the style of football he championed was mind-numbingly boring. Remember that riveting goalless draw with Burton Albion at Fratton Park last March? No, me neither.

However, it was his disdain for his own players and the Pompey fans which makes held in contempt by virtually everyone connected with Portsmouth. People who call for Awford's head this year may want to take a step back and remember how bad it was with Barker in charge.

Anyway, after a mediocre-at-best 2014, what does 2015 have in store for Portsmouth?

As it stands, Pompey are 10 points off the play-offs but do have a game in hand over many of the teams in the division. Whilst promotion is unlikely it should be said that York were 23rd in the league and 15 points off the play-offs at the turn of 2014 and yet still finished 7th such was the nature and low quality of League Two.

Therefore, it's not impossible for Andy Awford's men to get to Wembley come May even if it seems light years away based on recent form and performances.

However, Awford has to get things right in this transfer window having let so many players go. He has to recruit well so although Matt Tubbs has been heavily linked with Pompey, unless he has a midfield that can give him the ball then he will be limited. Creative midfielders are hard to come by in League Two, but hopefully the staff have a player in mind who will fit into the team.

Signing a right back is the other main priority given how many players have played in that position for Pompey and not made it theirs this season. Another centre back signing would also be ideal, especially if Paul Robinson doesn't get his loan deal extended.

Speaking of players who need to be kept, it is essential that Jed Wallace stays at Pompey. Perhaps it's just me, but it seems like the 20-year-old comes in for a lot more stick than he deserves simply because the expectations on him are so high.

He scored 14 goals from midfield last year and provides some drive in the midfield despite being so young. He has to be kept unless a team offers ridiculous money for him as he will not be easily replaced.

As for players who should leave, David Connolly is obviously going to be on top of that list but there's no way he is going anywhere and so next on the list is Ben Chorley who has nothing to offer at centre back any more. But is there any club willing to take him that he would be willing to move to?

Looking beyond the transfer window there is still half of the season to go and 69 points to play for. If Awford can settle on a first XI and get the best out of his players in a formation that works then there's no reason why this year can't be a good one for Pompey fans.

After all, the last six years supporting this football club have been bad so it would be nice to have a good year for a change. Even if Pompey don't win promotion this season, if there is something to build on and a positive feeling heading into 2016 then it would have been a good year.

But this is Portsmouth Football Club and you can guarantee some more turbulence and plenty of talking points as always this year. Let's just hope that 2015 is a year to remember for all of the right reasons for a change.