NO LONGER a case of them and us, more like a collective ‘we’.
For Paul Cook, the natural boundaries are eroding under the Portuguese sunshine and his Blues squad is beginning to unite.
Newcomers currently number seven, thrown into a dressing room containing an existing player base which continues to be culled.
As a group they represent Pompey past, present and future, challenged to bond together and drive the club out of League Two at a third time of asking.
The setting of Vale do Lobo has served as the glorious backdrop since Friday, as Cook strives to create working relationships which can aid the goal.
And the 48-year-old believes the Algarve is working its desired magic ahead of tomorrow’s scheduled return.
It was quite apparent to me in the first day of pre-season training that you can’t stop the them and us type of culture. With all the new signings, it’s like a favouritism type of thing.Paul Cook
‘The main thought process behind going to Portugal is integrating the new lads with the old,’ said Cook.
‘It was quite apparent to me in the first day of pre-season training that you can’t stop the them and us type of culture. With all the new signings, it’s like a favouritism type of thing.
‘We visited the Algarve with Chesterfield in my first summer of change there and found it to be really good.
‘I just find the best way for people to get to know each other is having a beer in a relaxed environment.
‘It’s important these lads build up working relationships.
‘The lads had a night out in Albufeira on Saturday and it went really well, according to them.
‘They also have time chatting and mixed by the pool every day.
‘It’s a hotel environment where you must behave. It’s not a drinks by the pool type of place being loud and full of music, it’s a lot more refined.
‘If we are half as good at football as we are at the bonding then we will have a great season!
‘It’s beneficial for the lads to integrate quietly rather than anything else. The important thing is they have a fantastic environment here to get to know each other, and the work process goes in slowly, slowly, slowly.
‘Then, all of a sudden, the training will pick up when we get back and will become very intense in preparation for the league campaign – with no alcohol.’
Pompey’s players are to be given Friday off, before training resumes back home on Saturday.
That signals the build-up to the first pre-season friendly at the Hawks on Saturday, July 11, as the campaign draws ever closer.
And for Cook the emphasis remains on creating a team unity as well as playing fitness.
He added: ‘In Portugal the players are training twice a day most days, but we have got to be careful – we don’t give them too much, too soon.
‘Fitness, in my opinion, is built up over a period of time, it’s not a daily thing.
‘It is about your eating habits, your sleeping habits, etc.
‘In the last few days we have gone on the beach first thing in the morning, which involves swimming out to markers and working as a team.
‘I feel that type of team spirit and work ethic as a group is important.
‘Individually, players don’t get you promoted.
‘You might have the player of the year at your club who is the best player in the world, but one player won’t get you over the line.’