Being a good bloke won't decide how Cook's viewed at Pompey

It's an invite which has, until now, been passed up.

Wednesday, 28th December 2016, 5:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:44 pm
Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler

It’s open house at Pompey’s training ground at Christmas – or any time of the year, actually.

No gatecrashing needed here. No unwanted guests at the Blues’ Roko training base in Copnor.

‘Come down here, have a cup of tea and watch us train,’ said Paul Cook of his offer to his side’s fans.

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‘I don’t know why fans don’t these days.’

It’s an unprecedented statement from a Pompey manager but there’s a sub-text to the message from the Scouser. One which his assistant, Leam Richardson, picks up on.

‘The fans are welcome. If they want to discuss anything with us we’re here. They can have a coffee and see how hard we work.’

The caveat to the invite is anyone descending on the training ground has to have watched Cook’s side, either home or away.

But the offer to talk over any of the issues which reside with supporters is at the crux of the matter. And we all know there’s a few of those.

From a glance at the online Pompey world, there appears to be a few recurring subjects which would be raised by fans given the chance.

That’s not to say that’s a true representation of Blues supporters in terms of either subject matter or the vehemence of those feelings.

It’s fair, however, to say playing two strikers, the use of Conor Chaplin and the team’s continuing home struggles all rank highly on any list of fans’ talking points.

And Cook is ready to tackle all those subjects with supporters.

His policy has been a full and frank one in his 19 months as manager.

Certainly more open and honest than virtually all of his predecessors in recent memory.

Yet, Cook’s relationship with supporters is one which remains in the balance today.

There is a little irony to that, with the man from Kirby a figure who perfectly reflects the club’s demographic. Cook talks like a Pompey fan, just one with a gravelly Scouse accent. And those words have been faithfully portrayed to readers via The News and in his time at the club.

If his status with punters remains unclear as he we enter 2017, his standing with the media has greater clarity.

His relationship with the local press corps has, by and large, been a convivial one since arriving from Chesterfield.

Cook and his team still struggle to get their head around the depth of coverage afforded their team.

And the 49-year-old certainly hasn’t agreed with plenty written about him and his players in his time at Fratton Park. But Cook hasn’t let bitterness or needle creep into a laissez-faire mode of operation with the media.

That may surprise a view who garner their opinion from post-match and Facebook Live videos.

Cook, as he admits, is poor value when the blood is still pumping after a game.

That can be construed as niggly and sometimes snappy.

A decent relationship with the press hasn’t got in the way of the right questions being asked, however, with the same vigour applied when speaking to any who went before the Pompey boss.

Perhaps that doesn’t always come across in taster videos which last a couple of minutes, with Cook being dealt a few undearm questions designed to deliver soundbytes.

The press conference can continue for well over an hour afterwards, with no questions off limits and no offence taken.

Those who have got to know Cook in his time at the club are likely to report positive feedback.

The majority of fans, of course, will not get the chance.

Ultimately, they will form their opinion on what their eyes tell them when they watch their side.

That, and where their club end up this season.