Steve Cotterill assessed Pompey’s crucial Championship showdown with Derby County and told his troops: It’s time to relieve the pressure.
The Blues boss was heartened by his side’s improved display at league leaders QPR in midweek, where Pompey were unfortunate to fall to a 2-0 defeat.
But that loss has now left them looking over their shoulders nervously in 20th place in the table – just four points above the drop zone – after a poor run of results.
The Blues have not won in nine matches, while their last home victory was against Nottingham Forest on October 30.
While Cotterill has shrugged off the notion that tomorrow’s clash has become a must-win game against another side struggling for form, he admits there is now pressure to get a positive result.
The Blues boss said: ‘I think they are all must-win games.
‘The longer you don’t win, the pressure builds up anyway.
‘But you can’t just concentrate on winning or losing.
‘You are on a journey to your end goal and if your end goal is to win the game, you have to concentrate on the journey.
‘That will be making sure we pass the ball well, that we get after Derby. We have to do that because we’re at home.
‘We must take our chances when they come along and if our performance is good and the chances go in, then the win takes care of itself.
‘It’s easy to say that we’ve got to win this one but it’s about how we try to win this one.’
Pompey were unlucky to slip to another defeat at Loftus Road on Tuesday night after turning in a spirited display.
And Cotterill has charged his men with replicating the same performance in a bid to end their nine-match winless streak.
He said: ‘I thought we were very good the other night against QPR and it was one of our best away performances, although not the result.
‘I thought we were aggressive, I thought we had a good bit of snap to us and I thought we had excellent energy levels, so I would have to be pleased with that.
‘I was bitterly disappointed with the result. If we can maintain those performances the results will come, for sure.’
Cotterill has urged the Pompey fans to crank up the volume to spur on his side.
He said: ‘When we went up to Derby, we had 30,000 fans baying for our blood.
‘I hope our fans are as vocal for us tomorrow because that’s something we could really do with.’