Paul Cook wants the cavalier back in Pompey's play

Paul Cook eyed up Stevenage and declared: It's time to be cavalier.

Friday, 4th March 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:31 pm
Pompey boss Paul Cook Picture: Joe Pepler

The Blues boss wants to inject the magic back into Pompey’s play, recreating the sparkling swagger on display earlier in the campaign.

A last-gasp leveller from Exeter in midweek denied victory for Cook’s men in their stuttering promotion push.

The Pompey manager, however, admitted the Grecians deserved to win the St James Park contest outright.

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Now the Blues head to the Lamex Stadium tomorrow to take on a side placed 20th in the League Two table.

And Cook wants a return to the attacking style he knows his side can produce.

He said: ‘Once Exeter equalised we looked like we wanted to score again. It’s not like I am shouting “Stay back”.

‘We need that bit of oomph, that bit of belief, it’s a bit of cavalier style.

‘Look at Yeovil. From the sending off to the final minute we played with a cavalier attitude, we played with no fear.

‘Fear can be created from a million different things, Arsene Wenger spoke about the toxic atmosphere at Arsenal. It’s not a criticism, it is what we create.

‘We actually didn’t deserve to win on Tuesday night. We haven’t played with that dominance away from home for a little bit now, we have got to get back to that.

‘That is our identity as a club. We want to create that passing style against Bournemouth for 70 minutes when our fans are on the edge of their seat.

‘The problem is, when teams set up to be deep against us, it can look a little bit ponderous, but that’s not our problem. Our problem is to have an identity and believe in it.

‘That’s the challenge for myself and the players now. Let’s believe in it and let’s carry it forward.

‘Let’s have a big game at Stevenage, let’s go and embrace the game.

‘We have played in a cavalier style normally when we have been allowed to. Ipswich away was one of the best games you’ll see because it was two teams going at it.

‘It hasn’t been like that and we concede a late goal and it’s the end of the world. It’s not the end of the world, it just isn’t.

‘We just haven’t done enough to win that game.’

Cook himself declared expectations for promotion upon his Pompey arrival.

But he feels his players should not be displaying fear in their pursuit.

He added: ‘The players are feeling it and they shouldn’t be because they have done nothing wrong. They haven’t gone out to concede late goals.

‘We have a terrific young keeper who has come in on loan, Adam Webster is probably the best young centre-back outside the Premier League, Ben Davies could be player of the year.

‘It is not anyone doing anything wrong, so I am not going to create a problem.

‘We have to believe with 14 games to go that we are going to be promoted.’