Dindane bolsters Grant's optimism
Portsmouth 2 Burnley 0
Monday 07 December 2009
The Premier League, when it is boiled down, is all about points and money, although the relationship between them is not always as straightforward as it should be. Look at Burnley. With the smallest operating budget in the league, they have already earned 17 points and have not been in the relegation zone all season.
Then there is Portsmouth, who have been penniless since August, are bottom of the table, are being propped up on a month-by-month basis and failed to pay their players' wages on time last month – for the second time this season. But even without money, they still managed to beat Burnley.
There are now worrying signs, like just one point out of 24 away from home this campaign, that a lack of money is catching up with the Clarets too. Their manager, Owen Coyle, rued missed chances here but it is defenders he may need to bring in next month, if he can afford it.
As for Pompey, the owners of the south-coast club have poured in something in the region of £20million since taking over in September but it appears to be going down a black hole somewhere near the Solent. The over-spending era of the former manager Harry Redknapp, in tandem with the previous owner, Sacha Gaydamak, brought the 2008 FA Cup and continued Premier League survival, but involved spending on player contracts that could never be matched by Pompey's frail infrastructure. A small stadium, little in the way of corporate boxes, and a fanbase that is loyal but not very widespread, means the club is crawling along.
With Avram Grant now at the helm, they struggle on, and this win – the first in Grant's three in charge so far – was certainly a struggle. The boos at half-time, partly thanks to Aruna Dindane's awful missed penalty, were well-deserved, but Grant introduced Nwankwo Kanu, leading to Hermann Hreidarsson's well-taken goal. Burnley, who saw efforts from Steven Fletcher and Kevin McDonald well saved by Asmir Begovic, then switched off to let Dindane head home from six yards.
The win took Pompey above Wolverhampton until Mick McCarthy's side won against Bolton, but Grant is nothing if not an optimist. "Difficult does not mean it will be impossible," the Israeli said of his club's chances of getting out of the bottom three.
Hreidarsson, the club's PFA representative, spoke more sense when asked about not being paid. Possibly thinking his team-mates are wealthy enough to withstand the delay to their wage slips, he said: "We're still getting paid for playing football in the Premiership. Don't feel too sorry for us as long as the club survives."
Portsmouth (4-3-3): Begovic; Finnan, Wilson, Ben Haim, Hreidarsson; Yebda, Brown, O'Hara; Smith (Kanu, 57), Dindane, Boateng (Mullins, 90). Subs not used: Ashdown (gk), Piquionne, Vanden Borre, Hughes, Belhadj
Burnley (4-4-2): Jensen; Mears, Carlisle, Bikey, Jordan; Elliott, Alexander, McDonald, Eagles (Guerrero, 73); Fletcher, Blake (Thompson, 68). Subs not used: Penny (gk), Kalvenes, Duff, Gudjonsson, Easton
Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).
Booked: Portsmouth O'Hara, Brown, Boateng, Dindane; Burnley Mears.
Man of the Match: Kanu.
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