STEVE WIGLEY has conducted himself well in the face of adversity.

But after Saturday's draw with West Brom, he admitted he would rather not have the extra game at Watford to worry about this week.

You knew what he meant. And he was not suggesting Saints didn't want to progress in the Carling Cup.

But it just sent out the wrong vibe. The players should take responsibility for their woeful performance, they played like they didn't want to be at Vicarage Road.

At the highest level, it is an attitude which will always be punished. The performance was also an insult to the fans.

Off the pitch, the positions of chairman Rupert Lowe and head coach Wigley have come under scrutiny.

Lowe has made high-profile mistakes in the past year, most notably his handling of the planned appointment of Glenn Hoddle and the entire Paul Sturrock affair.

His subsequent appointment of Wigley was also surprising, but after a big turnaround of managers he now seems committed to the current structure.

But if Lowe is so genuinely keen on stability, you have to wonder why he now seems to prefer one-year rolling contracts.

Wigley has apparently been backed until the end of the season, but does that timeframe really instil a genuine sense of long-term stability?

The transfer policy is also a bone of contention among many fans.

Saints are suffering from horrific injuries and clearly currently lack confidence and available players with big personalities on the pitch.

Yet since the start of the 2002/3 season, they have bought just one player who would automatically improve the team: Kevin Phillips.

That's not enough, and is particularly glaring when the likes of Antti Niemi, Michael Svensson, Matt Oakley and James Beattie are unavailable.

As for Wigley, he has taken charge of Saints at the toughest time imaginable. He deserves more time.

Ultimately, though, the people who can most influence whether Wigley remains at the helm are the players. And they must start tomorrow.

There are those who will say it could not be a worse time to play Pompey. They are wrong.

After Tuesday, it is the PERFECT opportunity for redemption. No other fixture generates the potential for such happiness among the fans.

The 5-2 thrashing at Watford caused plenty of pain, but it would still be outweighed by the joy of three points against the club's fiercest rivals.