Former Portsmouth midfielder Simon Ferry reveals how the side looked set for relegation to the conference in 2014.
Speaking to the Undr The Cosh podcast, Ferry said the team during the 2013/14 season were playing so poorly he thought Pompey would drop out of the Football League for the first time in their history.
He said: “I thought we were going to be the team which gets Portsmouth relegated to the Conference. Imagine being one of the guys that got Portsmouth put in the Conference.”
Portsmouth eventually finished 13th under Andy Awford, but for much of the season, the team failed to perform.
Ferry played an injury-hit season for the Blues under multiple managers and sometimes the poor performances lead to the players frustrations boiling over in the dressing room.
On the podcast, Ferry described how one half-time team talk was shelved because David Connolly was shouting at Patrick Agyemang for 15 minutes because he was called “bruv” during the game, which manager Guy Whittingham couldn’t control.
He said: “Fifteen minutes this went on, and Guy Whittingham god bless him, lovely guy, just stood there and let it happen.
“I went through Di Canio at Swindon, and if that happened there, he would have pinned them both up to the wall.”
In a follow-up interview with PompeyNewsNow, the ex-Scotland U19 international said Connolly would often lose his temper because he cared so much about the team and their performances.
He said: “Dave was very passionate, and because of that he liked to voice his opinion a lot.
“He always gave 100% in every training session and matchday.
“It hurt him a lot when we got beat, he wasn’t just a 36-year-old who was sitting there waiting for a pay check every week.”
The Scot also told Undr The Cosh that he thought the side would struggle when Whittingham was not tough enough after his first team-talk, shaking everyone’s hands after the 4-1 opening day defeat to Oxford United instead of giving the team a dressing down.
Ferry told PompeyNewsNow he was surprised it happened and assumed it was because the team played well before Johnny Ertl’s red card.
He said: “Guy is one of the nicest guys I met in football and his training sessions were very professional, but discipline is massive at that level, and with the group of players we had, you needed that sometimes.”
The Blues had a myriad of problems during the season, including tactical confusion under Richie Barker and Steve Coppell.
But for the current Peterhead player-coach and podcaster, the buck ultimately stopped with the players performances.
“Some of the players weren’t good enough and I would say that about myself at the time, I wasn’t good enough,” he said to PompeyNewsNow.
“Guy gave me the captains armband which I was proud of, but I never got going.
“There was nothing unprofessional from any of the coaches we had, and we had a good dressing room despite the odd argument, but the players just never performed.”
Guy Whittingham was approached for comment.
Editor’s amendment: Guy Whittingham responded to some of Simon Ferry’s comment after publication. You can see those comments here.
Si Ferry Part 2 – Undr The Cosh Podcast #85: Portsmouth section 35:00-48:00
Photo; Joe Pepler