Catlin praise for Awford man-management

Mark Catlin. Picture: Joe Pepler
Mark Catlin. Picture: Joe Pepler

Mark Catlin has pinpointed the man-management skills of Andy Awford as responsible for reinvigorating Pompey – both on and off the field.

Pompey have avoided relegation from the Football League under the caretaker boss, who has racked up five successive victories.

Now safety is secured, today’s long-scheduled 3pm board meeting will discuss handing the 41-year-old the role on a permanent basis.

Catlin, as chief executive, will be present at that Fratton Park gathering and inevitably voice an opinion on the management issue.

However, only the seven-man board is able to vote.

Regardless, in Catlin’s eyes, Awford’s contribution around the club has been invaluable in lifting spirits – and pulling off priceless results.

He said: ‘You can see the confidence and self-belief that’s running through the team at the moment and that is one of Andy’s big strengths – man management.

‘He can instil confidence in people and, having worked closely with him for 18 months, you can see that’s one of his strong points.

‘On days I have been down he senses it and sends me a little text or drops an email or gives me a phonecall.

‘He is not merely a caretaker manager of a football team, it’s how he carries himself around the place, with a smile on his face and constantly picking people up.

‘He’s got a lot of leadership qualities, definitely, and that does lift people.

‘I remember being at the Hall of Fame dinner earlier this month when he took to the stage to make a speech.

‘I am rubbish at football but if I had a pair of boots and I would have run through a brick wall for him after hearing that!

‘As chief executive, at the board meeting I will deliver a report and various elements of the club will be discussed. Obviously the manager is on the agenda.

‘I don’t have a vote. I have an input and opinion, but only the board has the right to vote.’

It was the Blues’ seven-man board which came to a mutual agreement with Richie Barker for him to leave as manager on March 27.

They then opted to promote Awford from Academy manager to the post of caretaker boss in a bid to keep the club in League Two.

Although mistakes were later proven to have been made by appointing Barker in the first place, the managerial shake-up post-Rochdale was essential.

And Catlin believes it was a ‘brave’ decision.

He added: ‘Fair play to the board and everyone concerned with that decision.

‘They knew Andy would unite everyone, bring people together and raise morale. He could get the best out of the football team and everyone at the club.

‘He has raised spirit, confidence and self-belief and it’s an important ingredient.

‘I think the board deserve a great deal of credit for taking the decision.

‘It was a brave decision to make the change.

‘Now we’re all making sure lessons have been learned.’