Andy Awford insists he would not hesitate stepping in to deal with a dressing room split – if that need ever arose.
In the wake of cricketer Kevin Pietersen’s allegations of bullying within the England team, questions have been raised over the management that allowed those issues to remain unresolved for so long.
The Pompey boss recalled how issues were dealt with during his playing days in the 1990s and prefers to let senior players deal with things themselves.
But he is also well aware that any potential problem would need to be nipped in the bud.
Awford said: ‘Did we ever have issues in our dressing room when I was playing? Yes, of course we did.
‘I don’t want to name people, but back in my playing days I can only think of one individual that I really didn’t see eye-to-eye with.
‘I get on well with most people but, as a group, we had one guy who didn’t fit the bill and didn’t buy into the team ethos.
‘It wasn’t bullying. The guy’s behaviour meant he was not liked by a lot of people both inside and outside the club. That was down to him.
‘The players tried to sort it out themselves, and if it should happen now I would like to let them get on with it.
‘But if I had to step in as manager, then I would.
‘Thankfully, there is nothing wrong at the moment. I can honestly say there is no problem to deal with.
‘Let’s remember you are dealing with competitive people. But that’s when you need a strong manager to sort it out.
‘I had lots of them in people like Frank Burrows, Jim Smith and Alan Ball.
‘And I’d like to think we would spot it with the backroom staff we have.
‘If something is not quite right, they would normally tell the players to grow up and sort it out.
‘But if it doesn’t, then it would come to me and it would definitely get sorted out.
‘I don’t know what goes on in a cricket dressing room but I think you still want to build a spirit and a team ethos. I think you need that in any successful team.’
While Pietersen also felt certain players were too harsh with criticism of their team-mates, Awford thinks there is a time and a place for a verbal rocket.
He said: ‘It’s professional sport so there are times when you have to have a go at people. But there is a way to do it.
‘Don’t get me wrong, if players don’t run around they are told that it isn’t good enough.
‘If they are trying to do the right thing and it’s not quite coming off, is it right to berate them for that?
‘I think there is a different way to go about things.
‘A lack of effort no matter what you do is not acceptable.
‘If you give your best and it’s not good enough, then fair enough.
‘But I would always have a pop at someone if they are not giving their best.
‘If they are not quite able to execute the skill or whatever, that’s when you need to have different strategies.
‘Maybe it helps that I have a bit of background in teaching and there are different ways to get the best out of people.
‘Some of those skills I learned outside of football are certainly transferable.’