Awford: One of my toughest calls

Andy Awford. Picture: Steve Reid (114305-493)

Andy Awford. Picture: Steve Reid (114305-493)

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Andy Awford reflected on turning down the Pompey assistant manager’s job and admitted: It’s one of the toughest decisions I’ve made.

Awford will return to his post as Blues Academy manager after rejecting the opportunity to link up with the first team as Guy Whittingham’s number two.

The 40-year-old explained he agonised over continuing in the position he has been working in on a temporary basis since November.

But after a period of consideration he has opted to return to the Academy role he took up in 2011.

Awford said: ‘I just think, at this point, going back to the Academy is the right thing for me to do.

‘I could have stayed and worked with Guy but I love my job with the Academy.

‘To build on the last two-and-a-half years there is what I want to do.

‘I want to finish the job off and get it right.

‘There’s a lot of work to do. This club is going to be relying on their young players.

‘This season the Academy players have achieved massive things.

‘We’ve got players into the first team and they’ve not let anyone down.

‘They’ve surpassed all expectations. I’m really pleased with them and want to continue that work.

‘At this time I just feel that I’m better suited to that role.

‘I loved working with Guy and the first team and it’s been a really good learning experience this season.

‘I spoke to Guy about it over two or three months and it was a really difficult decision to make.

‘He totally respects it. We’re good mates.

‘I spoke to lots of people and took advice from really serious players in the game.

‘It was a really tough decision – one of the toughest I’ve ever made.’

Awford feels being part of the first-team set-up during one of the most turbulent periods in Pompey’s history was an invaluable experience.

And being part of the first home league game of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust era against Sheffield United will live long in the memory.

But Awford is returning to an Academy set-up he feels is as important as the first team.

He said: ‘We had some success with the first team when we got a settled side.

‘It was nice being part of that and I take some good memories from that time.

‘The Sheffield United game will go down in Pompey folklore for me, and I can say that I was part of that.

‘But I feel the Academy is as important as the first team here.

‘We’ve made the mistake of not realising that’s the case in the past.

‘We need to rebuild the club now and I’m fully responsible, along with the great team we have here, for doing that.

‘We’ve got to make sure we produce players here.

‘We’re not in the market to go out and buy players, so we have to have as many coming through as we can.’