'It's high stakes here' - Portsmouth boss' warning ahead of Sunderland after players' conduct in insipid Burton Albion showing
Danny Cowley has demanded cool heads from his players in the face of adversity.
But the Pompey boss has made it clear his side can keep calm without losing intensity in their games.
The Blues face the challenge of stopping leaders and League One foes Sunderland in front of a sold-out Fratton Park crowd tomorrow.
They do so off the back of seven winless third tier fixtures, following an abject showing in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss at Burton Albion.
The clash at the Pirelli Stadium saw Pompey pick up a flurry of late yellow cards, as they reacted to the home side’s efforts at slowing the game down.
Cowley could understand his player’s frustrations, but said they simply have to do better at focussing their emotions if they are to improve their fortunes this season.
He said: ‘You’ve got to control your emotions and channel your frustrations.
‘We talk a lot about it.
‘We’ve got a few who can be emotional and it’s high stakes here, isn’t it.
‘They want to do well and it’s for the right reasons.
‘I understand why they do it, but because I understand doesn’t mean I think it’s right.
‘It’s for us to understand, keep working with the players and get them to channel their frustrations.
‘We need them to use it to energise their performance.
‘It’s much easier to execute technically and to execute your decisions when you have a clear head.
‘What was it Sir Clive Woodward said? T-Cup: think clearly under pressure. Having said that, if I’d seen a tea cup on Tuesday night I would've been throwing it!’
Cowley is adamant there’s absolutely no reason for his players to drop the intensity of their games in the quest for more control to their approach.
The 42-year-old highlighted the 2-2 draw with Plymouth as evidence of that, as his players pressed and got stuck into the visitors - lifting the home crowd in the process.
Cowley added: ‘It’s a fine line.
‘We want to play a high energy, high pressing and aggressive game.
‘Sometimes you will mistime a tackle and make a foul.
‘We want to play with energy and intensity in every game. We’re disappointed we didn’t get there in the Cambridge and Burton games.
‘We have to bring it every week, we have to do it consistently and be relentless. That’s what good players do and what good teams do.’
‘But they’re a good group. They feel the pain and they know what it is to be at a club like this.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
We’ve slashed the cost of digital subscriptions to our website by 50 per cent for a limited time.
You can now subscribe here for unlimited access to our online coverage, including Pompey, for less than 13p a day.