'Portsmouth people are underdogs - we really need them right now' - Danny Cowley's plea ahead of Sunderland showdown
Danny Cowley readied for the visit of leaders Sunderland and told Pompey fans: We need you.
The Blues welcome their in-form League One rivals to Fratton Park in a testing moment, after seven league games without victory.
That equates to their worst run for two-and-a-half years, with the brakes firmly applied to a promising start and fan frustration brewing.
Cowley’s side return to PO4 after two trips to Charlton and a hugely deflating visit to Burton Albion on Tuesday night.
The head coach noted how his side will find themselves in the unusual position of being the outsiders going into the game, against opposition in ominous form.
But Cowley feels assuming that position can work in his team’s favour, against a team who’ve won seven of their nine league fixtures with just a single defeat.
For there to be a favourable outcome, however, the 42-year-old is clear he needs the Fratton faithful with his men.
Cowley said: ‘It’s a really important game in our season.
‘It’s a big game between two big clubs.
‘If you follow the form people will predict an away win, but it’s for us to put a consistent level of performance together.
‘We’ve played really well in parts of games but not the full game, and if you want to get a result against Sunderland you need to play well for the full game – no doubt about that.
‘I know the supporters are down on us at the moment, and I totally understand why, but we really need them at the moment.
‘The Portsmouth people are underdogs themselves.
‘We going to need that spirit and fight, and we are going to have to spark it on the pitch.
‘If they can then drive that energy, that will really help us.
‘We’ve got to put a performance on they can connect with and be proud of.’
Last time out at Fratton, Pompey battled back to grab a late point against Plymouth with a showing which the supporters got behind.
Cowley believes that underlined if the Blues faithful are seeing commitment from their players they will get back them - even if the wins haven’t been coming.
But the former Huddersfield boss is clear his players have to set the tone and warrant that backing.
He added: ‘We’ve got to spark it - that’s our responsibility.
‘Look at the Plymouth game. We wen 2-1 down in the 80th minute, but they saw enough in the energy and commitment of the players to stick with us - and they did.
‘Because they stuck with us, we found a way. I don’t know if we would’ve found a way if they hadn’t.
‘They were a big part of that comeback.’