Is it really too soon to sack the manager?
In the wake of another disappointing home defeat on Saturday there were more than a few disgruntled fans who were calling for Guy Whittingham's head.
There is a relatively small but growing belief that Corporal Punishment is not up to the top job and his record since taking charge of the team would back that up.
In the 40 games he has been in charge of Portsmouth he has won just 7 of those, drawing 13 and losing 20. Therefore he has lost half of the matches he has overseen but this record doesn't really tell the whole story given how many of those matches were when he had to virtually rebuild an entire squad during the last campaign, replacing demotivated "stars" with rejects and loanees from other clubs.
It would be much fairer to judge his record on this season alone but again, that doesn't make for particularly great reading either. This season Pompey have played 10, won 3, draw 3 and lost 4 so to say Guy's start in permanent management has been mediocre would be hitting the nail on the head.
However, looking closer at that record, those fans criticising Whittingham for the amount of defeats need to remember who they were against. A narrow loss to Bournemouth in the cup and three league defeats all against sides that will finish in or around the automatic promotion places.
It's a harsh reality check but it's one that needs repeating now that Pompey are a League Two club still recovering from past woes but Oxford, Chesterfield and Fleetwood all have more experienced managers than us and in all honesty probably have better teams than us too.
Whilst the result on Saturday sounded embarrassing when hearing it, it really is no shame for "massive" Pompey to lose to a club which is trying to buy its way out of the league with substantial backing, no matter how small the town of Fleetwood is.
Whittingham is a fledgling manager and can't be expected to lead a team built on unwanted players, free transfers and loans to beat the top sides in this division, which Pompey's conquerers this season have been so far. The one team that should have been expected to be beaten at home were soundly thrashed before half-time.
If Pompey start losing to the likes of Dagenham & Redbridge, Newport or Hartlepool and deserve to do so then questions may well have to be asked. In fact, next week's trip to early strugglers York should be telling. Fail to win that one and those damning voices will soon grow louder.
But shouldn't we give the manager time? He may know the club like the back of his hand but he hasn't been a manager for that long and is going to make tactical mistakes, no matter how glaring or obvious they may be to all of the tactical geniuses sat inside Fratton Park or stood on the away terraces cursing late goals.
Everyone wants the popular Whittingham to succeed but he isn't going to become a world class manager overnight. We need to be patient and so long as Guy learns from his mistakes (such as dropping Wallace and changing the formation on Saturday) and we don't have a really disappointing run of results then he deserves time to grow into the job.
The only real backing you could give to the early calls for the manager to be sacked is if he gets out-thought during the next few home matches and his team continue to drop points on the road in the near future. No fan wants to see this season become a write off so early in and a crack at promotion should still be the aim for this season even if the challenge falls short in the end.
But for those who do want Whittingham out it should be asked: Who do you replace him with?
There are some ludicrous suggestions from some fans that Neil Warnock, Alan Curbishley or even Avram Grant could be tempted here but that's just laughable. One or two fans have suggested that Steve Cotterill should return having got Notts County promoted from League Two before but there'll be some Pompey fans who would rather watch a whole series of Miranda followed by a marathon of Songs of Praise than have to put up with "Cotterball" and his inane post-match rants again.
And that's one thing that Whittingham will always have over a man like Cotterill. His team at least tries to play football the right way and he always maintains his dignity in interviews despite the criticism aimed at him.
In short, there are no realistic candidates to replace Guy but it is far too soon to even think about sacking a manager who is still learning the job and has plenty of positives to offer. That opinion may change if results continue to disappoint but he and his staff need time to do the job despite the mistakes they will make on the way.
Hopefully Guy can prove his doubters wrong and force them to eat some humble pie by the time Christmas arrives. If not, then perhaps his time will be up and Portsmouth will be looking for its seventh manager in five years which is hardly fitting for a club looking to stabilise over the coming years.
Source: Fratton Faithful
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