Paul Cook: Judge Pompey performances not formations

Pompey boss Paul Cook    Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Paul Cook Picture: Joe Pepler
Wes Thomas, right, scored the opening goal in Oxford's 3-0 win over Pompey at the start of the season

Thomas wants U’s to capitalise on Pompey home form

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PAUL COOK has told Pompey fans to judge performances and not formations as he predicted an exciting Fratton Park encounter with Bristol Rovers today (3pm).

The Blues boss made no excuses for his side’s disappointing display in last weekend’s 1-0 home defeat to Leyton Orient.

Formations are for people to argue about

Pompey manager Paul Cook

Boos greeted the team at the full-time whistle before they slipped out of the play-off places in midweek.

But Cook, who understood fans’ frustrations, is focused on putting things right this afternoon as the Blues seek to end a three-game winless run in League Two against the Gas and reassert themselves in the play-off places.

Pompey’s last two outings have seen a change in formation – with a 4-4-2 system favoured in place of the 4-2-3-1 which had become characteristic of Cook’s reign.

The switch has coincided with a dip in form, though, leading some fans to call for an immediate return to the previous shape.

But the Blues boss believes formations are ‘irrelevant’ if his side are unable to play to the level expected of them.

He said: ‘It’s just how people will deem the formation on the day. It is just how it is.

‘Formations are for people to argue about.

‘I am not really going to get involved in all of the different tactical discussions about how we play.

‘The reality of the last couple of games is we haven’t played particularly well.

‘The previous game against Bournemouth in the FA Cup, we were excellent. So concentrating on getting back to what we do and how we play is important.

‘But if we play like we did against Leyton Orient, we can play any formation you want and we will not win the game.

‘So formations for me are irrelevant.’

Cook has instead turned his attention to getting the Blues’ promotion bid back on track, starting with this afternoon’s visit of Rovers.

A win would see Pompey leapfrog the Gas and could propel them as high as fourth spot in the table.

So with plenty to play for, Cook has called on his side to raise their performance level in what he expects to be an entertaining battle.

He said: ‘It is important for us to play well tomorrow. We can’t guarantee anything but we must play well.

‘There are a lot of teams in the division who choose to stop you playing, to time waste and do all of these other things.

‘Bristol Rovers are not a team like that.

‘They will engage us today in a good football match.

‘I think that is great credit to Darrell Clarke and his club.

‘Darrell has always played with two strikers up front because he enjoys that way of playing and that style of football.

‘Today, I think there will be two teams on the pitch trying to win a game.

‘There will be goals in the game and it will be a good game of football.’