‘Blue Army chants were heard four miles away on the Hayling Billy walk' - Why ex-Portsmouth boss Paul Cook can expect another hostile reception on latest Fratton Park return with Ipswich

Former Pompey boss Paul Cook returns to Fratton Park on Tuesday night as his Ipswich side go head-to-head with the Blues.

Monday, 18th October 2021, 12:32 pm

But what sort of reception can he expect from fans who he joined to celebrate Pompey’s 2016-17 League Two success, to walking out and leaving behind just weeks later in favour of a move to Wigan?

I think we all know the answer to that.

But that didn’t stop us questioning The Portsmouth News sports desk’s latest new addition and Fratton Park season-ticket holder Pepe Lacey for his thoughts….

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Here’s what he had to say ahead of the game...

Q: So Pepe, what sort of reception is Paul Cook likely to receive at Fratton Park?

It’s been a little while since Paul Cook returned to Fratton Park in front of fans.

He returned with Ipswich behind closed doors but the reception on social media (for him) that day wasn’t the greatest.

Paul Cook celebrates Pompey's 2017 return to League One with then chairman Iain McInnes at Notts County

Meanwhile, away at Wigan and at Fratton Park during the 2017-18 season, when he first returned, there were boos and it was probably one of the best atmospheres I’ve been at.

I distinctly remember a video appearing on social media of the ‘Blue Army’ chants being heard four miles away on the Hayling Billy walk and it was one of the best atmospheres I can remember.

All Pompey fans feel the same and recognise that he did a (good) job at the club, but he then left and walked out on his own accord when he could have done something special at Pompey.

It’s going to be a tough reception when he comes out tomorrow night.

He may love it really, but the Pompey fans aren’t going to be best pleased when he walks out the tunnel tomorrow night.

Q: What were your initial thoughts when he left for Wigan?

It really came out of the blue.

He said things like ‘I’m never going to leave’ and ‘I wouldn’t leave’ – then two weeks later he’s signed on at Wigan.

It was really bizarre because although he didn’t have a great relationship with the fans, he understood Portsmouth and he felt the club.

That’s probably what mattered and what was crucial as Pompey fans did like him when he was down here but when he left it didn’t go down well at all.

When Pompey played Wigan away just after he left it was still so raw, and I remember snake balloons went up and being thrown.

It was very raw back at the time and it did sink in after a while and there were a few people wanting him back just after Kenny Jackett was sacked.

It’s difficult because some do like him but he did walk out on Portsmouth.

The way it was handled could have been better as he said he wasn’t going to leave,

It is a difficult situation for all parties, but one that didn’t go down well at the time.

Q: What can we expect from his Ipswich side tomorrow?

We’ve all seen how Paul Cook’s sides line-up. It’s always been a 4-2-3-1, with two holding midfielders or aggressive number sixs.

We saw it with Michael Doyle down here and we all know how Cook lines his teams up, how he plays, and the style of football he plays.

It’s not like Danny Cowley’s (system) where you pass it out from the back.

His is more traditional and I can’t recall a time where it hasn’t been 4-2-3-1 because that’s how he goes about his trade.

It obviously works as he’s gained promotions near enough at each of his clubs.

The way Pompey cope with that is by just playing their way.

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Pompey have got to stick with their way and not go back to the 4-2-3-1 and try to block out Ipswich.

They’ve just got to go about it in their own way and stick with the 3-4-1-2 like they did against Sunderland.

Although it didn’t work against Rotherham, it was slightly different with (John) Marquis on his own up front.

Q: What impact can the fans have tomorrow?

Ipswich are probably one of Pompey’s biggest rivals at the moment.

People are looking out to see how Ipswich are doing and taking pleasure from them losing.

The same thing happened when Cook was at Wigan and they found it comedic if they lost.

People don’t like to see him lose but they also don’t want to see him succeed.

With how it is at Ipswich at the moment, people are sort of liking it, but Pompey aren’t doing too much better themselves.

In terms of atmosphere, when Cook arrived with Wigan, that day at Fratton Park was one of the best I’ve seen and the team won 2-1.

I’m fully expecting a feisty atmosphere and hopefully that’ll help push Danny Cowley’s men forward because that’s what Pompey definitely missed last season and we saw it against Sunderland.

In what was a huge game, the atmosphere was great and they beat them 4-0.

I think the fans will be up for it tomorrow and it’ll be tasty and feisty on the pitch.

I’m sure it’ll be the same in the stands.