Paul Cook has told his players to channel the pain of one of his darkest days in Pompey management.
Cook saw the Blues come up woefully short in their bid to hit League Two’s top three against Crewe on Saturday.
Pompey crashed to an abject 1-0 loss – in which they failed to hit a shot on target in 95 minutes of insipid play.
The result saw them drop to fifth place in the League Two table as Luton cruised to a 4-0 win at Yeovil Town.
It was a horrific display from his players and Cook cut a dejected figure as the vast majority of the 16,810 crowd were sent home disappointed.
And the home fans made their feelings abundantly clear on the final whistle as boos rang around Fratton Park.
Cook explained how he was feeling the pain after the loss.
Ironically, Pompey can still climb into the top three with victory at Crawley tomorrow night.
Cook knows his men must bottle the disappointment being felt and use it to their advantage as his team travel to Broadfield Stadium.
He said: ‘If you don’t hurt, if you don’t feel the pain, you’ll keep flitting along.
‘I’d prefer to talk about how I feel disappointed, how I might feel let down and how I might have let people down.
‘Hopefully, that pain might just trigger some fire in a few people to get this great club where they need to be.
‘As a manager everyone pats you on the back when you’re winning.
‘On this occasion, you have to take the criticism. We must take it.
‘We left the ground flat and we had to leave the ground flat.
‘There are no positives. There are none. There were 16,000 people in expecting to see us promoted.
‘If we’d won we’d have gone into the automatic positions with our destiny in our own hands.
‘I want people to be on the floor. You can only really show your character when you are on the floor.
‘We’re on the floor now, make no bones about it.
‘We’ll find out tomorrow night if they feel that pain.’
Saturday’s loss will go down as one of the lowest lows of Cook’s 22-month managerial tenure at Fratton Park.
Cook made no bones about the quality of the performance as his players froze with their fate in their own hands.
The Pompey manager warned his men there are only so many times his players can disappoint their supporters.
He said: ‘We were lacklustre and lethargic. You can use the adjectives until they come out of your ears.
‘It was a very poor, flat performance. In the second half we were a million miles away.
‘We never looked like scoring and we never looked like creating anything.
‘I want to enjoy the pain. Believe it or not, pain’s healthy in management.
‘You can only trigger people if you feel it.
‘If you’re blasé about it and strut in saying this or that’s to blame, it’s rubbish. We have let people down.
‘Now there’s a little bit of time left to maybe pick these people back up and go with them again. But you can’t keep doing it.
‘We’ll find out how much it means to the players now. We’ll find out how much it means to them and me.
‘The only way we can make people happy is not by talking about it but by actions.’