For the second successive season Portsmouth will go into a League Two campaign as favourites to top the pile, although super-tight 5/1 odds for 2013/14 have been replaced by a slightly better 7/1 price on the south-coasters triumphing outright this time round.
Nevertheless, Pompey’s incredibly underwhelming first campaign back in England’s fourth tier for 34 years ought to put all punters off getting behind Andy Awford’s side this term.
The 20/1 about Portsmouth dropping down a division for the fourth time in six seasons holds much more appeal considering their horrific form during August and September of last year.
Former boss Guy Whittingham led his men to two wins from their first nine league fixtures of the campaign, with a 4-1 opening day home loss to Oxford the lowlight of four defeats during that run.
That left Whittingham’s side on nine points – just three ahead of the relegation zone – and out of the title race with less than a quarter of the campaign down.
The much-loved ex-striker was replaced by Awford on a caretaker basis in November, but Richie Barker was handed the job on a ‘permanent’ basis a month later. He lasted until late March, having just taken Pompey through a six-game winless streak.
Double administration clearly hasn’t taught the Fratton Park outfit how to run a football club.
Awford’s full-time return prompted a cracking run of form, with Portsmouth going unbeaten for the last seven fixtures of the season, winning the first five of those.
They needed to, as Barker left the club third from bottom and contemplating life in the Conference Premier.
That Portsmouth only avoided such a fate by nine points, despite their late-season surge, says everything about their terrible term.
A case can be made with regard to the benefits of their former defender being in the managerial hotseat from the off, but Awford’s coaching claims were ignored in favour of Barker back in December, after he failed to bag a win from three games in temporary charge.
Whether the wholly inexperienced Worcester native can prepare his side for a full season is anyone’s guess, and he hasn’t added a number of star players to the squad, as their title odds suggest.
Paul Robinson’s loan move from Millwall should work out okay, but apart from that it’s pretty much as you were.
They’re an awful bet to be League Two winners, and punters shouldn’t be squeamish about backing Pompey to continue their tumble through the 92-team league ladder at 20/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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