Cook: I knew half-time incident wouldn't crack Pompey's spirit
Paul Cook believes Pompey's dressing room bond is unbreakable.
And the Blues boss was never concerned the half-time Stevenage brawl would affect his squad’s morale.
The players provided an insight into their unity during the team’s reaction to Kal Naismith’s free-kick winner at Grimsby last Saturday.
The Scot ran towards the bench to celebrate with the subs, before other members of the side piled on top.
The late victory represented massive relief after Christian Burgess and Michael Doyle’s well-publicised scrap against Stevenage two weeks prior.
And Cook insists he knew that incident would not wreck the spirit within his closely-knit squad.
He said: ‘That Grimsby win meant a lot to our players. People don’t see the pain, they only see the final show.
‘Everything gets questioned in football today, dressing rooms, team spirit, everything.
‘But as long as this club isn’t successful I wouldn’t expect the atmosphere to be fantastic all the time.
‘You are always going to have that edge. It’s about what you do about that edge and what you do to win games.
‘The lads want to win desperately, and for anyone to question the lads’ commitment is poor.
‘We show naivety and there are a million other things you could say about us, but some of the things which actually get said are, for me, so far off the mark.
‘They are a good set of lads, they work hard every day to try to get success and, you have to remember, out of all teams in this division, these lads get the most criticism.
‘They carry the greatest weight of expectation.
‘Other clubs can say what they want about us, good or bad, none of them have to put up with the pressure our lads do.
‘They won’t come off pitches with 2,000 fans away from home, and it’s tough sometimes for those lads because they carry that.
‘I feel the experience of them continually going through that is healthy for them and makes them stronger.’
Struggling Hartlepool visit Fratton Park tomorrow stinging from last week’s 5-0 home defeat against Cambridge.
Pompey have had their own problems recently, but Cook does not anticipate everything going according to plan.
He added: ‘We have to go through problems, every club must.
‘This club has had such a turbulent time so it is wrong for anyone to expect to put a great squad on the pitch. We all love each other, we have a great team spirit, we have great recruitment, the hospitality lounges are great, the car park is great.
‘Come on, we have come off the floor and are trying to pick the pieces up.
‘Along the way there are going to be some bumps and bruises and plenty more, that is what happens.’