Adams still hoping to keep Defoe
Portsmouth 0 Bristol City 0
Monday 05 January 2009
Maybe the booing at full-time from the Fratton faithful changed his mindset, but Tony Adams appears to have discovered new resolve to keep hold of Jermain Defoe.
Content that the England striker, a target for Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, did not pull a sickie on Friday, the Portsmouth manager will most likely sit down with the player today to discuss his future at the club - provided that Defoe is well enough to make it to training.
"Maybe I'll make a point of talking to him on Monday. People change. I always want to give the benefit of the doubt to players," said Adams, who has dropped his mantra of only wanting to retain personnel who are completely committed to the club.
"At the moment, he's a Portsmouth player and, until you hear otherwise, I am very positive [about the prospect of him staying]."
Convincing Defoe to stay will be an uphill battle, especially after the player revealed yesterday that he has received threats from irate Portsmouth fans.
Without the flu victim, Adams again plumped for a 4-5-1 formation and there seemed an eerie predictability about this result, even before kick-off. Peter Crouch led the line alone, with Adams wary of his team "committing suicide" in the manner that they did in the 4-1 home defeat to West Ham on Boxing Day.
Niko Kranjcar and David Nugent offered support from the flanks, but there was something unedifying about the FA Cup holders playing with caution at home in the third round against middling Championship opposition.
That Adams resisted the temptation to change tack as the second half wore on suggests that he lacks confidence in his team's ability to drive forward in greater numbers without leaving themselves susceptible to the counter-attack.
Portsmouth's greatest asset is indeed their defence, which only allowed the visitors one clear-cut chance all afternoon, a 70th-minute header from right-back Bradley Orr that David James tipped over the bar.
By that time, the excellent Sylvain Distin had already seen a double effort scrambled off the City goalline, as well as strong drive turned away by Adriano Basso. The most glaring miss came from Kranjcar who headed wide from six yards when unmarked.
The return with Gary Johnson's men at Ashton Gate will be played a week tomorrow. Adams, who before the match lauded his team's ability not to concede goals, needs to find urgent solutions on how to score them.
Portsmouth (5-4-1): James; Cranie (Pamarot, 82), Campbell, Distin, Belhadj; Nugent, Wilson, Davis, Mvuemba, Kranjcar; Crouch. Substitutes not used: Begovic (gk), Lauren, Hreidarsson, Little, Kanu, Traore.
Bristol City (5-4-1): Basso; Orr, McCombe, Carey, Fontaine; Skuse, Styvar (McAllister, 83), Sproule (Williams, 64), Elliott, Johnson; John (Adebola, 62). Substitutes not used: Henderson (gk), Noble, Akinde.
Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).
Booked: Portsmouth Belhadj; Bristol City John.
Man of the match: Distin.
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