Paul Cook happy to give Pompey fans reason for cheer

Marc McNulty celebrates after coming off the bench to score against Notts County. Picture: Joe Pepler
Marc McNulty celebrates after coming off the bench to score against Notts County. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Paul Cook spoke of his satisfaction at giving fans belief Pompey can finish the season powerfully.

The Blues showcased their potential with a 4-0 battering of Notts County to deliver the perfect start to the Easter period yesterday.

It was a dominant performance from Cook’s side as they responded to the pre-game demand of providing supporters with hope about what can be achieved over the crucial finale to the campaign.

The Scouser was pleased the Magpies were never given a sniff of success in their first game under new boss Mark Cooper.

And he feels fans have been offered a glimpse of what can be achieved to boost spirits with eight games remaining

Cook said: ‘The reason you come to manage Portsmouth Football Club is because of how big a club it is.

‘We must manage that correctly and sometimes we need to keep our heads down a little bit more.

‘It’s a learning curve for our players and by the time we adjusted against Newport we were down to 10 men and the game was gone.

‘But we never got in danger of losing the game against Notts County.

‘That’s how we should play at home against certain formations.

‘The fans can believe now. If you look at our goals, our wins and our goal difference, it’s getting to a stronger position.

‘We were brought in to get promoted and be successful. With eight games to we have a chance now.

‘We are keeping our heads down because it’s about us and what we do.’

Cook rang the changes with four switches to his starting XI from the draw at Mansfield.

Paul Jones started with Ryan Fulton – who was at the game – not given permission to feature by the Scottish FA after his under-21 call-up.

Matt Clarke and Adam McGurk both made their first starts since the loss at Barnet eight games ago with Gary Roberts returning after suspension.

Cook feels the changes showed the options he has at his disposal.

He said: ‘We have good players in the squad.

‘McGurk hasn’t played enough due to a couple of injuries.

‘When Roberts and Smith play up front they have a good record. It’s about partnerships and blends.

‘McNulty is a fantastic finisher and Conor is a fantastic finisher. Sometimes at this club there is a clamour to bring more people in.

‘But we’d do well to get better ones than we already have.’

Cook reserved special praise for Clarke who started with Webster on the bench after picking up a knock.

He said: ‘Matt was excellent. Adam has been fantastic this season.

‘But we didn’t concede a lot of goals with Matt Clarke and Christian Burgess at the back earlier in the season.’