Paul Cook delivers message to Pompey fans

Pompey boss Paul Cook   Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Paul Cook Picture: Joe Pepler
  • More than 17,000 expected at Fratton Park on Saturday for season’s opener
  • League Two campaign will kick off against Dagenham & Redbridge
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Paul Cook has called for supporter assistance as Pompey limber up to finally launch a genuine promotion challenge.

More than 17,000 fans are expected to be in Fratton Park on Saturday for the League Two curtain raiser against Dagenham & Redbridge.

When a game goes into a little lull, then it becomes the supporters’ turn to play their part – and they do play their part. People should never underestimate the part supporters have to play

Paul Cook

It will be an occasion brimming with optimism over the chances this campaign can at last provide the Blues with an exit out of the bottom division of the Football League.

The club have made no secret of their promotion aspirations, with fans’ expectations also high.

And Cook believes to achieve such an outcome the Fratton faithful can also play a crucial part.

He said: ‘You can hear me from the sidelines shouting “press”, it is a trigger, anyone can pass the ball if not put under any pressure.

‘We will sometimes struggle against teams like Bognor – not being disrespectful – who drop off you and allow you comfortable possession in areas which don’t hurt them.

‘What you will always see is better games when teams go at you. This is what we have got to educate our supporters with.

‘The reason teams might sit off us is we are earning their respect. Of course we are going to have Bognor’s respect, but can we have Oxford’s, can we have Luton’s, can we have Northampton’s?

‘We will soon find out.

‘That is when we need the supporters. When a game goes into a little lull, then it becomes the supporters’ turn to play their part – and they do play their part.

‘People should never underestimate the part supporters have to play.

‘You will be in grounds watching other teams and hearing other fans moaning and groaning and I have never grasped it.

‘Listen, Portsmouth fans as we know are top-class supporters, to come through for the club like they have done they don’t need me to tell them how to support their team, I am not that disrespectful to anybody.

‘What I mean is during a game there may need to be a key moment when we are, for example, drawing 0-0 at home after 20 minutes.

‘So can the fans take the roof off? What could then happen is it gives the players a leg up – and that is why everyone can play a part in leading us to success.’

Speaking generally and not about the Fratton faithful, the mindset of an element of football supporters still astounds Cook.

And the former Liverpool season ticket holder has questioned the approach some fans have towards their favourite teams.

He added: ‘To this day I don’t grasp how you can turn up to a game and moan. There is plenty of time once the referee blows the final whistle to moan as much as you want.

‘I thought the definition of a supporter is to support your team.

‘I am not lecturing Portsmouth fans, I am speaking about football in general.

‘After 90 minutes is when we used to go to the pub and have a discussion about the game.

Nowadays it’s message boards and social media and we discuss everything on there. There are a lot of managers on message boards, I believe!’