PAUL COOK has vowed to take on Pompey’s promotion fight with a smile.
And the Blues boss has promised to transmit that message to his players in their bid to get out of League Two.
Cook’s side take on Accrington Stanley tomorrow with a victory desperately needed to inject impetus into the campaign.
The pressure is on, but the Pompey manager feels now is the time for the players to rekindle their enjoyment of the game. And, in the face of expectation, that message has to come from the top.
Cook said: ‘Management is funny because we’re all under pressure. My big thing now is to enjoy my time here.
‘That’s massive for me. I’m not going to buckle.
‘I’ve been caught up in the frustrations of the club and the effects a defeat has on us as a club. I must remove myself from that.
‘I enjoy working in a happy environment and I must make sure the players feel that. We have to play football like we enjoy it.
‘Our lads played with no fear at Wycombe and we looked a good team. I like that.
‘But the players have to feel my support. They have to go and embrace games the way we want it to be played.
‘It’s smiling. Your work place is better when people are laughing and joking when you work. Football is no different.
‘Portsmouth’s a unique club – no getting away from it.
‘The minute I want to say something one section of fans want to moan at me. I’m going to smile, no matter what.
‘If it’s painful Saturday I’ll be smiling. I’ll be wearing a smile. I’m going to enjoy this journey now no matter what. And I’m going to make sure the players do the same.’
With 18 games to go, the battle lines are drawn in the Blues’ season.
After 21 months in the job, Cook feels he is equipped with an understanding of his club which will aid him in the run-in. And he intends to have the strength of his convictions on that journey.
Cook added: ‘Last Saturday was the most enjoyable game I’ve had for a long time. Do you know why? I reverted to type.
‘If I’m to be successful or not, which only time will tell, I’ll be reverting to type.
‘That’s me. I’m going with it. End of story.
‘It’s not a case of having the strength of my convictions. You saw that with Michael Smith on deadline day. I’m not scared to make decisions.
‘At Portsmouth, as outsiders, people say they could sort that club in a blink. Everyone does.
‘You come inside and learn about the club. You learn about the problems and people say you’re making excuses.
‘It’s football clubs. My job isn’t to change the club but the quicker I understand it, the quicker it helps me. After my time here now I feel that.
‘We’ve got to enjoy this now. We’ve got to enjoy the run-in and playing at Fratton Park. Embrace it.
‘It’s about us now. I want the fans to clap. What do you clap? Good work-rate, good play and good energy. Let’s go back to the basics of how you enjoy a Saturday afternoon.
‘I want Portsmouth to start being Portsmouth Football Club. Genuinely.’