Confidence is Cook's Pompey preference

Paul Cook has highlighted the role of supporters in giving his team belief.

Sunday, 18th September 2016, 2:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:22 pm
Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler

The Blues boss has underlined the importance of Pompey fans in giving his side a renewed sense of confidence.

Cook’s side went to Accrington yesterday on a four-game winning run and sitting second in the League Two table.

That’s a turnaround after a disappointing start to the campaign where they failed to win in their first three league outings.

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Cook felt he could detect the angst building in his side’s backing after that opening.

And he noted how that disappointment was vented after the loss at Morecambe last month.

The Scouser feels operating in such an environment will have a negative impact on players – citing West Ham’s difficulties adapting at their new stadium as an example.

Cook said: ‘What you can’t buy is confidence and belief. At Morecambe away all our fans want to shout at them, they hear that.

‘Yet when they are coming off the pitches now what do they hear?

‘These lads are not machines.

‘When you look at West Ham, they are creating the environment at that stadium of intimidation.

‘It’s an asylum. Do you think players want to play for West Ham like Payet? See you!’

After their slow start, Pompey registered their first league win against Colchester at the fourth time of asking.

Cook could feel the tension at Fratton Park that day but the result saw that evaporate.

And since then the conviction in his team has grown – as have, largely, their performances.

Cook said: ‘I am not saying Portsmouth are like that (West Ham) but we go into Colchester where it is split between are we supporting the team or not.

‘I didn’t like us at Exeter. I am not knocking them, that’s my team!

‘We haven’t changed the way we play.

‘We played the same way at Exeter, it’s just that things are going our way. The first goal against Crawley was a quality goal, great goal, great play, great movement, great ball and suddenly everything looks a bit easier on the eye.

‘If we had gone to Morecambe and bored the life out of everyone and drew 0-0, we would be top now.

‘What would the fans say about that?’

One thing Cook is pleased to see is his team picking up penalties at Fratton Park.

Ironically, he felt the atmosphere created by fans proved counter-productive last season on that front, with the Pompey boss believing officials were keen to be seen showing their strength against spot-kick appeals.

That saw two penalties given at home all season – a total already equalled this term.

Cook said: ‘The Colchester penalty was lucky, we’ve had that bit of luck.

‘We’ve had more luck this season than the whole of last year.

‘We had Ipswich in the Cup and Plymouth in the play-offs.

‘This year it’s already two at home. With all due respect, Portsmouth Football Club should be getting penalties at home.’

Cook is happy at seeing some early-season penalties go Pompey’s way – but that doesn’t mean he’s actually watching them.

He explained he is not one to watch spot-kicks being taken when the stakes are so high.

And that’s been the case with Gary Roberts’ efforts this term.

He said: ‘I don’t see the pens. I don’t watch penalties, never have done, never will.

‘You have no control over it. I have seen lads miss pens and I want to kill them.

‘I want to physically go onto the pitch and drag them off. Your life is in their hands.

‘If anyone thinks you can watch the Colchester penalty on 78 minutes, when we haven’t won for three games as Pompey manager, then you are better than me!

‘I go down the tunnel and sit on the stairs.

‘I watch them back because I know they go in.

‘It’s not really bottle from Gary Roberts. He is a senior player and expected to do that sort of thing. You expect senior players to step up to the plate.

‘We are scoring goals and everyone looks a good player.’