Boss: It comes down to heart

Pompey boss Steve Cotterill
Pompey boss Steve Cotterill
Carl Baker. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Steve Cotterill believes the race for the play-offs will ultimately come down to which teams can show the most heart.

The Blues boss revealed he had gone through the entire Championship fixture list during the two-week break from action in a bid to identify Pompey’s play-off points target.

But Cotterill admitted he came up short in his attempts at number-crunching and is instead now focused on what his side can achieve.

Cotterill explained: ‘That points tally is difficult to nail down.

‘The lower part of the division is easier to predict compared to what you’d need to get into fifth or sixth.

‘That’s what I’ve been staring at for the past two weeks. We’ve been trying to work out points tallies.

‘Our run in is equally as tough as everybody else’s because I have looked at all the fixtures.

‘So first and foremost, I think it’s more about whose heart will break first.

‘Who has got the biggest heart? Who can carry on going forward when you get the knock-backs? That’s the key.

‘It’s not about keeping on going forward when you are winning.

‘It’s when you take one on your chin and keep moving forward – that is what you are trying to do.

‘We have got eight games and have got to bulldoze our way through them.’

While the Championship remains an unpredictable league, in nine of the past 10 seasons 73 points has been the minimum requirement to finish in sixth place, although Blackpool made it with 70 last term.

But to reach the 73-point benchmark, Pompey would need at least six wins from their remaining eight games.

Cotterill said: ‘Really, our sort of league starts from fifth to 13th, that’s where we are with it.

‘There are 13 teams that are going to be playing each other and the pendulum will swing depending on who is fit, when they play, who they play against, who they’ve got available to them, who is on a confidence crisis and who is not.

‘That is why it’s such a draining league.

‘There are 46 really hard games and you cannot turn your back on any of them because otherwise you will get bitten.’

While Cotterill joked he had been unable to call upon technology to help him with his predictions, he remained upbeat that his team had a fighting chance of muscling into the top six and believed none of their rivals would relish facing Pompey.

He said: ‘I haven’t got a computer, you think I’m joking but I can’t afford one.

‘It was either a loanee or a computer, so I went for the loanee.

‘So I’ve got a pen and paper and four biros instead!

‘It can be unpredictable but we can finish fifth or sixth if the gods are with us.

‘It will be game to game but if you go through all the fixtures it’s more about the timing of who you play.

‘The good thing about it is we’ve got some of those teams at home in Norwich and Swansea.

‘But nobody will be thinking Portsmouth is an easy game, either, so hopefully that will be the case.’