Pompey boss looks to learn as history repeats

A strong start with a dip in the middle before finishing like a train.

Sunday, 21st May 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 10:03 pm
Paul Cook celebrates Pompey's League Two title win. Picture: Joe Pepler

The story of Pompey’s form across a title-winning season to join those forever remembered on the Fratton honours list. Or is it the tale of Chesterfield’s League Two victory as they lifted the title in 2014?

Both successes, of course, came under Paul Cook – and the parallels between the campaigns have not been lost on the Blues boss.

Pompey saw their season begin with five wins and two draws from their first nine games.

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That drifted into a less successful middle section where back-to-back league wins were recorded on just two occasions across 25 fixtures.

We all know what happened at the end, though. Ten glorious wins and a draw from 12 fixtures culminating in a very special final day.

It was a similar story for the Spireites as they started their 2013-14 season with four wins and two draws from six.

More inconsistent form followed through the rump of league fixtures before five final wins and three draws, with a Wembley trip in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy plonked in the middle.

Cook feels there could well be lessons for him and his coaching staff to learn moving forward.

He said: ‘We finished dead strong at Chesterfield. It was the same as here.

‘It was the same, without a shadow of a doubt.

‘We went on a great run late on. It’s hard to say why. You never know why.

‘As a manager you can only prepare your team.

‘It seem that teams of mine and Leam’s normally start the season well.

‘We normally have a blip in the middle and then we normally come back strong.

‘It’s certainly something you look at as a manager.

‘Can we give them more rest days in the middle?

‘You look at the training schedules because we can show you every training session we’ve done.

‘The amount of detail is there.

‘It’s something we need to address.

‘We want to get better and better.

‘We want to break down why players perform well for so many games.’

So, despite the success of a memorable title win, Cook believes there’s much to which can be learnt and improved on.

And the Pompey boss also feels there are successful principles which should be carried forward.

Cook said: ‘One of the big things you learn is to trust your players.

‘That’s been one of the biggest things on my learning curve for a long time.

‘As a manager, one of the biggest things for me when you reach that crunch point is I’ve never really made a lot of changes to teams.

‘If you look at the Crewe teams to Carlisle team, I expect there was one change.

‘We don’t really make changes because I like to have great trust in the players.

‘At times, that’s something fans have to buy into more.

‘The natural thing for fans these days is to want different players. I’m not sure that always works.’