League not Cup success is prize for Cook

Pompey boss Paul Cook   Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Paul Cook Picture: Joe Pepler

PAUL COOK focused his attentions on Hartlepool and told his players: Forget about the FA Cup.

The Pompey boss feels losing to Ipswich in the third round of the competition next month will support the club’s league ambitions.

In a way, the quicker we get out of the competition the better.

Paul Cook

The Blues were handed a trip to Portman Road next month after beating Accrington Stanley last weekend.

But Cook has his eyes firmly on delivering in League Two this season.

The Ipswich game has had a knock-on effect on the league calendar, with the January 9 trip to Morecambe now being rescheduled.

The Pools clash tomorrow marks a period of five games in four weeks over the Christmas period, before the Cup clash.

Cook underlined it will be a case of balancing priorities, and there’s little doubt what’s at the top of the list.

He said: ‘In my opinion I will be judged on my success in the league table rather than saying we got to the fourth round of the Cup.

‘We played this team and that team but we missed out on the play-offs. Is that a great job?

‘In the end there’s a balance.

‘You like to get in the third round, but there’s a balance.

‘The draw can be kind or cruel.

‘An away game means a two-day journey and it means the game against Morecambe gets called off.

‘It means we have to go to Morecambe on a Tuesday night.

‘For me, and it’s only me, I think the league is our bread and butter.

‘So, in a way, the quicker we get out of the competition the better – unless we win it.’

The FA Cup may be a distraction from Cook’s focus of getting Pompey out of League Two`this season, but it does offer the club obvious financial benefits.

Getting past Accrington in the last round saw £27,000 collected in prize money.

That would rise to £67,5000 with victory over Mick McCarthy’s Championship side next month.

There is also the added benefit of shared gate receipts from the tie.

Both teams will receive 45 per cent of that with 10 per cent going to the FA.

Cook has seen the boost cup revenue can provide this season, but he insists, ultimately, that’s not his lookout.

Cook said: ‘For me, the target is promotion.

‘The FA Cup starts in November for us and January for the big teams.

‘It’s a tough time of year for people, so logic dictates that will have a knock-on for attendances.

‘But it’s not my job to bring finances to the club.

‘I don’t get involved in the nuts and bolts of finances.

‘My job is to deliver success.

‘We had the Derby tie on TV and went into the Reading game with a massive gate.

‘The average home attendance is around 15,000 with probably 13,000 budgeted for. So the fans are continually giving money to the manager to have a chance of success.

‘My job is to manage that right. I think we can do that well.’