Portsmouth caretaker manager Andy Awford calls for unity

Portsmouth caretaker boss Andy Awford calls on the spirit of Alan Ball

Portsmouth caretaker boss Andy Awford has called for unity as he attempts to keep the club in the Football League.

The 41-year-old was put in charge after Richie Barker was sacked on Thursday and has seven games to help keep the club up.

Pompey are currently two points above the relegation zone with seven games of the season remaining.

"We all need to be together, the staff, the players, the board and the fans," Awford told BBC Radio Solent.

"The fans know me and I know the fans and together we will get this place rocking. We have to be together and fight. It is going to be hard, it's a difficult task and if I did not think we could do it I would not be here.

"We will be going all out to put smiles on people's faces because the football club ticks with the fans. It's unique, the fans drive this football club. Always have and always will."

Awford has called on his players to replicate the spirit shown by the late Alan Ball, who helped inspire the 'Great Escape' of 1997-98.

Ball returned to Pompey for a second spell as manager in February 1998 and led the club to safety on the last day of the season against Bradford - a match Awford played in.

"God bless him, if he was still alive, I'd be wheeling him in here myself because he is the type we need," added Awford.

"Unfortunately he is not with us and we all miss him but that is the spirit we need.

"I played in two last-day game relegation battles. One away at Bradford under Alan and one away at Huddersfield under Terry Fenwick, I don't want another last day out here against Plymouth. We need to get as many points as possible before then to make sure that does not happen."

Portsmouth only won four of their 20 matches under Barker and are in grave danger of a third successive relegation, a far cry from the glory of winning the FA Cup in 2008.

But Awford, who is head of the club's academy, but also had a spell in charge of the first team when Guy Whittingham was sacked last year, is confident he can keep the club up.

"Relegation would be unacceptable," he said.

"The decline is so dramatic and I do still feel we are feeling the trickle of administration.

"That still bites on us and we have not had time to stabilise. All we are focusing on is now and the rest will follow. Normally, I'm about longevity, but it's all about now.

"We would like to win 5-0 every week and play like Barcelona, but we've got what we've got and we are where we are. My focus is on getting results and installing confidence that will allow the players to express themselves.

"I'll be trying to win football matches. If it's boring, then it's boring."

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