Pressure, a season in one game and Danny Cowley on whether play-off shootout with Oxford United and Charlton Athletic defines his time as Portsmouth boss
Danny Cowley admitted the defining fixture of his Pompey reign is a season condensed into one game.
And the Blues head coach believes his men are ready to embrace the pressure of a one-game play-off shootout, as he brushed off the thought of his Fratton tenure being seen through the prism of the final-day outcome against Accrington Stanley.
Pompey know just what is at stake as they go up against Charlton Athletic and Oxford United for the last remaining play-off berth.
Their fate is in their own hands with a win guaranteeing their season will be extended, with that scenario bringing an intensity to the occasion Cowley believes his players can respond to.
He said: ‘A season condensed into one game? That’s a very good way of putting it.
‘It’s been a 46-game season, a marathon of a season and we’re now on the final straight.
‘We need to start sprinting. We’re just about in front and we need to sprint fast enough so no one can catch us. That’s what we plan to do.
‘We live for these big games, this is what it is. You work your whole life to get to a place where you have the opportunity to play in big games you know will have a huge influence on other people’s lives, first and foremost our supporters’ lives.
‘We want to enjoy that responsibility, we want to embrace that.
‘I think pressure is a privilege. We work all our lives to perform at the highest level possible.
‘The higher the level, the bigger the game, the more the pressure - that’s what we’re running towards.
‘We know we put smiles on their faces last weekend with a good performance and result at Wimbledon. We want to keep those smiles on their faces come the end of play on Sunday.’
Cowley has injected impetus into Pompey’s season since succeeding Kenny Jackett as manager in March.
Six wins, three defeats and two draws have arrived for the Blues to arrive at a point where they can now achieve what was seen as the minimum requirement for the campaign.
Cowley feels it’s not for him to decide if the Accrington result decides whether his time at Fratton Park has been a success.
He added: ‘I’ll leave that for other people to worry about (if the result defines his tenure).
‘I’m going to live in the moment and concentrate on the process.
‘We know we can control the outcomes if we get the process right, and we know there’s also some uncontrollable factors.
‘We’ve done really well to navigate through a lot of uncontrollable factors since we’ve been here to put ourselves in this position.
‘I’ll leave it for other people to decide if we’ve done a good job or not.
‘Ultimately for Nicky and myself we wake up each day trying to do our best, that’s what we’ve done. For that, we will always be proud of ourselves.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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