Ertl calls for courage under fire

Frustration for Johnny Ertl. Picture: Joe Pepler
Frustration for Johnny Ertl. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Johnny Ertl believes Pompey need to rediscover their courage after Blues fans vented their frustrations at their own players.

Pompey were well beaten, devoid of inspiration and seemingly of desire in a woeful second-half display at Bristol Rovers as they slumped to a 2-0 loss.

While they may have been tempted to make a swift exit for the tunnel at the final whistle, most of the players – led by Ertl – at least showed some bottle to thank the travelling fans for their support.

But they were given short shrift by plenty of those who made the trip, who made their feelings known.

And the Austrian skipper, who has been a target for disgruntled fans this season, accepts the criticism that has been levelled at a team that continues to under-perform.

Ertl, who deserves credit for again fronting up to the media after a defeat, said: ‘I definitely don’t take their support for granted.

‘A lot of them turned up again and gave us fantastic support.

‘If they are not happy, as a player, you have got to cope with that.

‘You’ve got to accept it as part of the job. You’ve got to get on with it and work harder to try to put things right.

‘It’s difficult because things are not going for us right now.

‘But we need to be brave and play with courage.

‘The fans want the team to win and believe me, I want to win as well.’

Blues fans have certainly shown their loyalty to the club over the past few years of seemingly never-ending misery.

While many believed the Trust’s takeover would herald a brighter future, patience is wearing thin at the lack of progress on the pitch this term for a group of players that should be doing better.

Most supporters understand the need for patience and did not expect Pompey to find instant success in League Two.

But there is a growing feeling of anger among the fans at having to stomach another unacceptable display from the team.

The defeat now leaves the Blues in serious relegation trouble amid a run of nine games without a win.

But Ertl believes the ethos behind the community club must come to the fore at a time it is needed most, with players and supporters uniting for the common goal.

He said: ‘We need to be a collective group, stick together and encourage each other.

‘We are a community club, we are proud of that and the biggest one in England.

‘But that means we need to help each other out during difficult times.

‘We are a collective group and we are all part of this.

‘Obviously, the fans’ expectations are high and they will always be high of this football club. It’s a special place to play football.

‘A community club is about helping each other out in dire times.

‘So when things are not going our way, we need to stick together.’

He added: ‘I thought we were still in the game at half-time and had two really great chances.

‘But the second-half performance wasn’t great.

‘Everybody knows that and we’ve got to improve.’