Howard issues honest assessment on his Pompey start

Brian Howard in action during the defeat to Oldham at Fratton Park    Picture: Barry Zee
Brian Howard in action during the defeat to Oldham at Fratton Park Picture: Barry Zee
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Brian Howard surveyed his first month at Pompey and declared: I’ve got to do better.

The Blues skipper has made himself a popular addition to the ranks and has shown glimpses of the class that Michael Appleton identified as a key part of his rebuilding plans.

But Howard is a big enough character to admit he hasn’t done enough.

After Pompey’s sluggish start to the League One campaign, the 29-year-old has offered an honest assessment of his own role within that.

And he’s looking for big improvements from the team – and also from himself.

Howard explained: ‘As club captain, I’ve got to stand up and be counted to be an example and a leader to the other lads.

‘I’ve got to step it up a gear.

‘It’s a huge honour to be captain of this club but I need to start putting in performances on the pitch and winning games.

‘I’ve played at a lot of clubs and most clubs I have been at, I’ve been used to winning games. So I haven’t been in this situation that much and it’s a test of my character.

‘When we lose, I find it hard to sleep. I’ll be punching the steering wheel on the way home. I hate losing – whether it’s a five-a-side in training or whatever – it really hurts.

‘At most clubs I’ve been at, I’m not used to it. So it’s something new for me. But I honestly don’t think we are too far away.’

While Howard clearly has the quality and pedigree, the former Barnsley and Reading midfielder has yet to dominate a game in the way he should.

And although there are plenty of plausible reasons behind the club’s slow start to life in League One, Howard is hopeful things will change at Notts County tomorrow as Pompey look to respond to the 2-1 home defeat to Swindon in midweek.

Howard said: ‘The gaffer told us all when we signed that the first six weeks would all be about sticking together while we tried to get the team to gel.

‘It’s a whole new team, a lot of the lads haven’t had any pre-season but there are positive signs.

‘We showed that against Swindon and we need to take that on against Notts County this weekend because there were some encouraging moments.’

Another issue for some of the players is the status of a club like Pompey as they adjust to life in League One.

Howard said: ‘It’s a big club and some of the lads have got to get their heads around that.

‘Some teams will come to Fratton Park and it will be like a cup final for them. We saw that with Walsall and Oldham.

‘So we’ve all got to get our heads around that and we’ve got to be brave about it.

‘If you misplace a pass and the crowd groans, it’s not because they are getting on your back but it’s because they are disappointed. They are with you and want to do well. But then you have to be brave to get on the ball and try it again and again.

‘I think some of the players are still coming to terms with that.’

Howard also believes the Blues fans can play their part – as they did with their support in the face of defeat against Swindon.

He said: ‘The crowd were unbelievable again against Swindon with the way they kept going and we need to give them something to cheer about properly.

‘I’m sure there will be plenty coming up to Notts County again and we can put in a performance for them.’