Not picture perfect for Pompey, but lessons learnt for Catlin

The Pompey team picture still hangs on the wall of Mark Catlin’s office.

Guy Whittingham rightfully assumes centre stage but, of course, along with several others he is no longer around.

This purported season of stability has produced two managers, two assistant managers, four goalkeeping coaches, two head physios and the utilisation of 46 players.

In addition, Andy Awford is currently in his second spell as caretaker boss this term, now assisted by Academy coach Paul Hardyman.

The impact has been instantaneous.

Two crucial victories amid passionate and immensely-improved performances have provided crucial momentum up the League Two table.

Away from the field of play, the club are out-performing all budget targets and clearing legacy debts early.

Nonetheless, in pure footballing terms, it was never supposed to be like this.

Catlin said: ‘There have been changes – too many really considering we came out and said we wanted a year of stability.

‘But when you are building a team from scratch, it’s not like any normal club.

‘At normal football clubs there’s an evolving player process, year-on-year-on-year, a bit like a car.

‘If you are taking out the mis-firing elements, keeping the good bits and then adding new ones in the end, the car goes faster and faster and faster and develops.

‘What we had this year was everyone coming together in a very short period of time.

‘It has been a learning curve both for Guy and Richie with the hand they were dealt with as regards to players.

‘Realistically – and it has been well documented – the aim was mid-table but with an outside chance of the play-offs.

‘But you look at the Guy situation and Richie situation – to a degree there was a parallel and the word used on both occasions was confidence. The confidence had evaporated.

‘It was a combination of the confidence evaporated by the fans in the team and the team themselves.

‘Guy hadn’t lost the fans and I’m not sure Richie ever had the fans.

‘But what has gone has gone. As a board, CEO and club, we need to learn from that and take it on board.

‘It forms part of your learning curve and now, hopefully, we can move forwards to a brighter future.’

Much has been made of the chief executive’s relationship with Barker – a manager he previously worked with at Bury.

But Catlin insists the exit of Whittingham was more difficult to stomach.

He added: ‘If I am being totally honest, it was 10 times worse with Guy leaving, without any shadow of a doubt.

‘I had a very good professional relationship with Richie, whereas I am quite close with Guy – and Andy – because of what we went through during the administration. It became more than just professional, we had been fighting to save a football club.

‘It was just a completely different level, a totally different level. Richie never had that bond with the club, where Guy rightly is a legend here.

‘Was it more difficult to speak to Richie (about leaving)? No, it was more difficult to speak to Guy.’