Pompey’s final league position couldn’t be any more symbolic of how the club has failed, miserably.
The side finished eighth in their first League One season, when really the expectation was to consolidate and build for the following promotion campaigns.
Fast forward three years, the club ended up eighth, again.
Even after a whole host of talent, promises, rallying cries, investment (arguable), tactical ideas, and diatribes about hard work and determination, the end result was the same.
This season was a disaster, there’s no sugar coating it.
What’s worse is the manner of defeat on Sunday, where none of the first-team players turned up in a play-off defining game.
They bottled it, just like so many important games before.
I didn’t need reminding of the turgid play-off semi-final defeats against Sunderland and Oxford, or this year’s pathetic EFL Trophy final performance – at Wembley of all places!
I’d seen those before, and the game against Accrington was the greatest hits version of all of those bad memories.
Pompey getting punished for defensive lapses without doing the same to their opponents.
Numerous players not being brave enough and relying on their teammates to bail them out of trouble.
Fans even saw the classic long period of aimless direct football, despite Kenny Jackett getting sacked months ago.
What’s worse is I could see what some players were trying to do, but the execution was nothing short of abysmal.
Passes were always a yard off their intended target, touches were awful, and shots were tame at best.
Quite simply, the Fratton faithful couldn’t point out any player who deserved any credit after Sunday’s performance, a feeling reminiscent of so many previous big games.
There’s only one difference.
Previously, most of the supporters’ ire was directed at Kenny Jackett, and rightfully so.
The belief from many was, with the right direction and tactical setup, this squad could achieve promotion.
I had positive opinions on the majority of the players when I compared their analytics and video of their performances.
I even backed the groups mentality before the game. How wrong was I.
The only way to move on from this prolonged spell of mediocrity is to blow it up and start again.
Too extreme? Well, there’s literally no other option, as the club doesn’t have much of a foundation to speak of, on and off the pitch.
The majority of Pompey’s star players over the past four years are gone, and those that remain have let the fans down too many times.
I wouldn’t lose any sleep over any current first-teamer being moved on, despite supporting them over the years.
This current situation is worse than the players not being good enough, or Danny and Nicky Cowley not having enough time to achieve promotion.
A culture of mediocrity has set it, and the only way to change the atmosphere is to clear the squad of any deadwood, regardless of past successes.
A squad’s ability, or perceived potential, doesn’t matter if the rot of a previous regime has set in.
It’s not just the playing squad, the foundations at the club just aren’t there, so only drastic change can solve its problems.
The board have pretty much admitted the academy was a failure by releasing most of the youngsters – regardless of potential – and reshuffling the staff.
There’s no development squad to facilitate the growth of young players, and a lot of other promises for new facilities in and around the stadium haven’t been met.
What is left for the fans to get behind? There’s no identity to feel a part of and get behind.
There can be though. The Cowley brothers getting extended gives them the licence to rebuild Pompey in their own image.
I believe their modern approach is the perfect platform for change.
Tactically, the side have looked miles ahead of where they were.
A philosophy of fast, pressing, attacking football can be built during a pre-season.
Not only is Danny Cowley the right man to do this, other clubs have proven major shifts can be made.
Blackpool reshaped their entire squad in the summer and are now reaping their playoff rewards.
A big turnover of players is a risk Pompey simply have to take to stay competitive.
After all, fans have heard from the board over the past three years that the goal is promotion.
Now it’s time for them to act on their word, properly this time.
The club need to work smarter, not harder, and have to stop putting barriers in front of themselves which block success.
Wonderful memories of the EFL trophy win and performances throughout the years don’t resonate with the fans anymore.
We can take losing, but not the abject failure that’s defined the club for the past four years.
But most importantly, the we need a team we can be proud of again, and players with the right mentality to wear the shirt and accept the pressure from it.
Sunday’s performance was gutless and pathetic, and the fans will never forget it.
Danny Cowley will probably be given free reign over the squad, and there shouldn’t be any sacred cows.
Any player deemed worthy of staying at Pompey has to prove themselves.
The rest can simply go, they have no standing anymore.
Change has to be embraced by everyone at the club; fans, board members and players alike.
Draw a line under the previous regime, it’s synonymous with disappointment and under achieving.
Start again and embrace the challenge that’s ahead.
If everyone involved with the club does that, then the fans will support you again.
Photo: Joe Pepler