Is Awford Really The Right Man?

Last updated : 30 April 2014 By Jim Bonner

Andy Awford is set to be named as Portsmouth's permanent manager, possibly before kick-off on Saturday.

It will be well deserved for the 41-year-old who deserves a monumental amount of credit for turning Pompey's fortunes around and dispelling Richie Barker's myth of having bad players at his disposal.

However, is one fantastic run of results good enough for Awford to be employed in the top job permanently?

Those who have watched Pompey during his second caretaker spell in charge would have noticed the huge difference he has made to his players and the team as a whole.

Gone is the dour football played under Barker and the football that Awford's team has produced has largely been entertaining to watch and has made the last part of the season very enjoyable. It's just typical that the season is now about to end just when things were all going right, but it bodes well for next season and that is a huge positive for Awford's appointment as well as season ticket sales in the summer.

Not only is the football of better quality but every player is showing a greater desire to win 50/50 balls and chase lost causes under Awford which was something that was rarely seen under the previous managers this season. In honesty, League Two is of such poor quality that if your players are willing to graft, then that's half the battle won already.

Awford also knows the club better than any other prospective manager that Pompey could employ and has an affinity with the club's fanbase which will buy him some extra time, but not much extra time if the case of Guy Whittingham is to be used as an example.

The pressure for promotion would be on from the first whistle next season and you would have to wonder if some of our more fickle fans would turn against Awford like they did with Whittingham this season. The difference between the two is that the former has just rescued the club from what looked like certain non-league football at one point and he seems to have some tactical nous about him too.

Take the Bury game, for instance. He worked out that Bury's major weakness was dealing with long, direct balls into the box and their back four couldn't handle tall, powerful players and so on came Agyemang and also Bradley as a centre forward and soon enough a 3-0 deficit was turned into a 4-4 draw despite some of the worst defending you'll ever see from a Portsmouth team.

Andy knows how this club works from the inside too and reading what he had to say about reviving the academy and what he had to do to keep it going, clearly shows that he has plenty to offer this club and not just at youth level where he excelled.

There is an argument that Awford's lack of experience at League Two level is going to work against him and that managers promoted from within rarely work.

However, there is evidence to suggest that this may not be the case at all. Russ Wilcox was promoted from Scunthorpe's assistant manager position and went on to get The Iron promoted and set a new record for longest unbeaten run at the start of a managerial reign despite having no previous experience.

Former player and assistant manager Gary Rowett has twice taken Burton Albion to the play-offs and his Brewers side may yet win promotion despite his inexperience. Even James Beattie has to be given credit for his achievements at Accrington Stanley despite his inexperience and dreadful start to management.

Therefore, the only real question mark against Awford is his ability to cope under the pressure of expected promotion given the increased playing budget for next season. Nobody will want to see him go the same way as Whittingham but the evidence suggests that he knows what he is doing and will have the respect of the players too, as long as he signs the right players in the summer, of course, but only time will tell how shrewd he can be in the market.

The only real negative to come from Awford's appointment would be the loss of an excellent youth coach but it would hardly be fair on his successor to instate a clause in Awford's contract which would allow him to return to the youth set-up should he not be right for the top job.

The last question to answer is whether there are any better candidates out there for the job? Pompey could poach the majority of League Two and possibly even League One managers but looking at the names, there is nobody who really stands out and none of these people has the knowledge of our club than the man currently in charge of the first team.

It would seem that Andy Awford has plenty to offer this football club and the majority of Pompey fans want him to be appointed so, is he really the right man for the job?

My answer is a cautious, but resounding "yes"!