IT’S TIME to take Michael Smith out of the Pompey firing line.
And Ray Crawford has called for Paul Cook to boost his attacking options in the transfer window this month.
The striking legend and former Blues man has leapt to the defence of Cook in the face of calls for him to leave Fratton Park.
But he feels he needs reinforcements up front – and should partner a new face with Conor Chaplin in a two-man strike force.
And Crawford pinpointed Luton’s Danny Hylton as the type of man Pompey need.
He said: ‘We’ve got to get a striker, whether it’s on loan or we have to pay money, that’s what we need.
‘We need a forward of a higher class – someone like the Luton boy, Danny Hylton.
‘He’s someone who works hard and puts himself about. Then Conor Chaplin can play up front with him.
‘I’m not really a follower of the boy Smith. It’s a shame, but I don’t think he’s got it.
‘He’s not mobile enough, doesn’t hold the ball up well enough and he doesn’t get in front of defenders. For his size, you’d think he’d win balls but that’s not the case.
‘I hate to talk about the lad like that having been a number nine, but the boss has given him chance after chance after chance. The boy isn’t good enough – at the moment.
‘This is the fourth division. We’ve come up against rough and tumble forwards this season who have done it.
‘Maybe he’s too nice. He needs to get stuck into people and let them know he’s about.
‘We need a boost. Conor could play up there alongside someone else.
‘We’re not good enough to just have Conor up there and play balls into his feet. We knock the balls in whether it’s in the air or on the floor.
‘It’s not his style to play up front on his own, so Conor needs to play there with somebody else. Conor will score goals but he needs someone alongside him to do the work.’
Despite more flak being aimed at Cook following the Doncaster defeat, Crawford believes the Pompey boss deserves support – and it’s the players who should receive criticism.
‘People are crying for Cooky’s head,’ said Crawford.
‘I don’t think this is a time to have a go at the manager.
‘We’ve all got to get behind him now and give the team a push.
‘He’s had a right go at the players after Doncaster and quite right, too.
‘You can’t be prima donnas and just think you can turn up and win the game.
‘People are calling for his head but, at the end of the day, it’s the players. They’ve got to look at themselves.
‘The manager looks after them so well. They went away on Wednesday morning to play Thursday night. I can’t believe that! They are mollycoddled too much. They have to get out there and see what the real world’s like.
‘The manager is taking the stick for the players – and I don’t think he should.’