Pompey told to prepare for ‘difficult season’ in League One

Michael Appleton faces a tough time in League One next season, according to Steve Claridge
Michael Appleton faces a tough time in League One next season, according to Steve Claridge

Pompey fans expecting an easy return to the Championship have been warned: Forget it.

A tough campaign in the English game’s third tier lies in wait for Michael Appleton’s side next season, according to one of the Blues’ former heroes.

Steve Claridge has predicted a challenging campaign as the team he managed and played 104 times for adjust to life in League One.

Pompey will be playing their first season at that level for 29 years, as Appleton undertakes a complete squad overhaul.

And even if the club can come through their latest financial crisis, anyone expecting the team to tear through the division has been told it will not happen.

Claridge, who works as a Football League expert for the BBC, said: ‘I don’t think they are going to bounce back easily.

‘I don’t think that will be the case. I think it will be a tough year.

‘If they can’t keep the players they have, it’s going to be hard. I don’t think it’s a case of just turning up.

‘It’s going to be a really difficult season.

‘They had a top-three budget and were bottom six for most of last season.

‘How much togetherness is there and how much do these people want to be at Portsmouth Football Club now?

‘They will expect to be competitive but people really shouldn’t think Pompey will just have to turn up.

‘I think people should realise it is going to be a tough year. No-one should be taking it for granted.’

Claridge believed the encouraging news for Pompey was they would be entering a division that will be weaker than it was last season.

The promotion of Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield and Charlton takes three heavy-hitters out of the equation.

Claridge reckons MK Dons and Sheffield United are two sides to look out for.

He said: ‘Karl Robinson’s done a brilliant job at MK Dons. You have to also look at Sheffield United.

‘Doncaster are much of a muchness and so are Coventry from the Championship.

‘The teams who have got out of the division are stronger than the teams coming into the division, so there is that.

‘Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield and Charlton are three big clubs – three biggies.

‘In fact, it’s a good time to be in there because those who have gone out are financially bigger, shall we say, than those coming in.

‘It’s not a bad time to be in there, in that respect.’