Steve Cotterill lifted the lid on his post-match pitch rallying cry against Coventry and insisted: I’d never blast my players in public.
Cotterill has revealed the reasons for pulling his men together in the wake of Tuesday’s 3-0 loss against the Sky Blues was to stop them venting their fury at referee Dean Whitestone.
The Pompey boss angrily dismissed the suggestion he did a ‘Phil Brown’, a reference to when the former Hull boss ripped into his players on the pitch at half-time against Manchester City three years ago.
Cotterill stated there was no way he could lambast his men after the resolve they’ve shown through a season of turmoil.
And he insisted he would never ‘dig out’ his men in such a manner, preferring to keep problems behind closed doors.
The 46-year-old initially refused to go into the reasons for his actions in the wake of the game but now he has revealed all.
Cotterill said: ‘If I had something to say to the players it’s not going to happen in public. They know that.
‘There have been plenty of times this season when I’ve been asked to dig a player out.
‘I’ve never done that. That’s not my style.
‘The chat I had basically was to tell them to stay away from the referee. It wasn’t me having a go at them. I was feeling the same thing as them.
‘No way I would have a go at them on the pitch.
‘If I have anything to do to them like that I would never do that publicly. I’ve had my moments in the dressing room. They know that.
‘Any time I’ve had a go at them in the dressing room they would probably agree with me because they are an honest bunch. They would know it was justified.
‘I don’t always speak my mind publicly but the lads will know where they are with me – good, bad and indifferent.
‘There’s a good spirit from when we went to America.
‘The delays were a problem but we got to bond a lot in adversity, that’s often the way.
‘I haven’t a problem with the lads. Who could with the effort they’ve put in this year?
Cotterill admitted he feared the worst and there could have been repercussions if the players and referee Whitestone headed for the tunnel at the same time.
Whitestone gave a series of contentious decisions, most notably when he sent off Hayden Mullins for a handball in the 69th minute.
Cotterill was concerned more suspensions could have been heading the club’s way unless he took action.
He said: ‘I could see David Nugent opening his mouth and saying something. That’s why I took him off.
‘Liam Lawrence was the same. He was worked up.
‘It was easier to keep them out and tell them they’ve had a right go with 10 men and deserved praise.’