Cook: I believe in my Pompey players
Paul Cook plotted Pompey's latest assault on League Two's top three and insisted: I believe in my players.
And the Blues boss stressed he bears sole responsibility for the wretched Crewe defeat.
Pompey head to Crawley tonight (7.45pm) seeking to take full advantage of their much-vaunted game in hand.
Victory would see them break into the automatic promotion spots for the first time since September.
It should not be overlooked that Dermot Drummy’s side held league leaders Doncaster to a goalless draw on Saturday.
In contrast, Pompey produced one of their worst Fratton Park displays of the campaign to slump to a 1-0 loss to the Railwaymen.
Still, tonight the Blues can make massive strides in their promotion push – and Cook is adamant they possesses the players to achieve it.
He said: ‘If you look at our flat performances and write them down, there have not been that many.
‘You don’t lose the faith in your players. I never would as manager, the only time they can repay your faith is in the long-term and not short-term.
‘We had a disappointing day as a club on Saturday, which was not down to an individual or a player.
‘For me, though, could I have affected the game better, yes without a shadow of a doubt.
‘The facts are the facts, we want to be promoted automatically and to do that we’ve still got a great chance.
‘Managers want to blame players, but players do what managers tell them. Formations are picked around what the manager believes in.
‘It wasn’t tiredness. That is always blamed when you play like we did and we looked jaded, but we had two days off beforehand, so we just look for excuses.
‘There are plenty of different opinions out there, everyone’s opinion is valid when we get beat, but there are 12 games for us and we have a game in hand on most.
‘If we win we’ll be third in the table with 11 games to go and so much to play for.
‘We have a game of football to win and the most important thing is we do just that.
‘And I have great belief in the players.’
The Fratton faithful were rightly left fuming at last weekend’s display.
Yet a candid Cook admitted he warrants the criticism rather than the players.
He added: ‘Did I help our team do enough to win that game on Saturday? I don’t feel I did, I don’t feel I did as manager.
‘I don’t feel my substitutions were good, I don’t feel what I offered to the game on Saturday was anywhere near enough to help the players.
‘Should the players also take responsibility? Not really, they play to orders, don’t they.
‘They play to orders and the orders on Saturday, in my opinion, were not good enough.
‘So I believe the criticism should be vented towards me and I accepted the criticism.’