Player collector Ertl delight at Pompey squad stability at last

Johnny Ertl congratulates John Marquis on his goal at Oxford. Picture: Joe Pepler
Johnny Ertl congratulates John Marquis on his goal at Oxford. Picture: Joe Pepler

Johnny Ertl’s eyes had grown accustomed to the gloomy instability at Fratton Park.

In his 13-and-a-half months at Pompey he has played alongside a staggering 60 team-mates in the first-team environment.

Although the Blues’ skipper does claim he can name every single one of them.

Still, Ertl is convinced the dark days have now passed and there exists precious stability in Guy Whittingham’s squad following so much upheaval.

So far 24 players have been used by Pompey’s boss this season, of which 10 were also on the club’s books last term.

Nonetheless, Ertl believes there is now a vital familiarity among the players at Fratton which provides a steady working platform to build upon.

He said: ‘What we didn’t have at this club over the years was stability.

‘All over the place there were so many new faces coming in. I have seen 60 faces already and I only signed 13 months ago. This is true!

‘Although the bookies had us for promotion but realistically we are a team that needs time, we need stability and to work hard on the pitch.

‘Stability, sustainability, these are the key words and everybody is working hard.

‘We have got to improve in certain parts, everybody knows it at the club because we are a community club – but it is a work in progress.

‘With all the players I have played with, of course I remember them because you spend so much time together on the training ground and there are so many great characters.

‘I am still in touch with a lot, that’s the nice thing about football, so when they move in different directions you keep up.

‘Right now we have one pick-up point for away games and we leave from the ground but before that the players used to live all over the country.

‘Last year when we had an away game in the north we had five pick-up points, it was the reality.

‘Nowadays we have a settled, stable squad, with players living here in Portsmouth.

‘It was almost a never-ending story last season and was difficult, a huge task, but I learned a lot out of the situation.

‘When you see all this process over the year and people right now here who really care about the club, this makes me so proud. It is the most important thing.’

As captain, Ertl has been overseeing a greater involvement by the players within the community.

In addition, this summer the club stipulated a preference for new signings to live within a 30-mile radius of Fratton Park.

Ertl believes the result has been Blues players embracing not only being footballers for the club which employs them but also the local community.

He added: ‘It’s a community here on the island. Some players live around here so they get a feeling for the community and spend quality time with the people.

‘That didn’t happen in the past, we won the FA Cup five years ago and it was a great memory – but there wasn’t a really good interaction with the players.

‘We made it clear from the start we are a community club, as players we have got to do something and everyone jumped on it.

‘There have been stakeholder meetings, training sessions for kids from the community, question-and-answer events – and players go there.

‘It is a really important thing. And I am really happy as a club we do that.’