An eventful year in the life of a Pompey manager

It was Wednesday evening and the phonecall arrived from Trevor Birch '“ Guy Whittingham had been expecting it.

Pompey chairman Iain McInnes, left, with Guy Whittingham, centre, and Mark Catlin.   Picture: Malcolm Wells (131129-0724)
Pompey chairman Iain McInnes, left, with Guy Whittingham, centre, and Mark Catlin. Picture: Malcolm Wells (131129-0724)

Michael Appleton had departed for Blackpool, a caretaker was required to fill the role

Whittingham was asked to be that man.

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Today is the first anniversary since Birch’s plea was answered – and Whittingham remains at the helm.

These days he is a permanent appointment and spearheading the new era accompanied by the community club buzzword and precious optimism.

The past 12 months have seen the 48-year-old become the longest-serving caretaker boss in Pompey history as well as oversee relegation to League Two.

Yet the club survived and this weekend a trip to Stevenage in the FA Cup will mark Whittingham’s 48th match in charge since taking them against Bury.

A year many will never forget for a host of reasons.

He said: ‘Boy has it ever been an eventful year, one of the most eventful in the club’s history I would think with everything going on.

‘At the time all the staff had obviously seen the rumours about Michael Appleton going, so you half expect you are going to get a phonecall and that is what happened.

‘Trevor called me, I came to the ground to meet him that evening and he asked if I would take over the first-team duties, which I was delighted to do – then we discussed having Andy (Awford) with me.

‘I’d had a spell earlier with Stuart Gray which went fairly well so felt I’d like to give it another go being caretaker.

‘The thought of being permanent manager didn’t enter my head then, it really didn’t.

‘We were in a situation where we needed somebody to step up and take it, we needed people running the football side of things that knew about the club and knew what they wanted to do with the club.

‘As you carry on doing it you get a liking for it. You do grow into roles and it’s like anything in life, once you get used to it you get a bit more confident and starting implementing things you want, it wasn’t a case of changing things drastically because we couldn’t anyway.

‘I look at it now and it’s going in the right direction, football can change in an instant but we went the whole of October without losing, it’s a nice little run – but we still know there is lots to do.’

Of his 47 matches in charge so far, Pompey have won 11, drawn 15 and lost 21, although it’s a record weighed down heavily by last year’s often thankless task.

He added: ‘There were times in early January where certain players had to go because of the size of the finance and we were having two or three triallists in every day. Also some players really didn’t want to be here, they were going through the motions.

‘As for the high point, it has to be the takeover, without a shadow of a doubt. For this club to still be around is a tremendous effort from a lot of people.

‘Talking football, Sheffield United at home was a great day, Crewe away was a great day, those stick out a little bit.’