Grant backed to lift Portsmouth up table

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The Independent Football

Former Chelsea manager Avram Grant is being backed to lift Portsmouth up the table after it was confirmed he will succeed Paul Hart at Fratton Park.

Hart was sacked on Tuesday with the club rooted to the foot of the Barclays Premier League with only seven points from 13 games.

Grant will take charge for the first time on Saturday for the home game against Manchester United.

Former Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric, now in a similar role at Leicester, believes the 54-year-old is the right man for the job.

"I am delighted for Avram and the supporters as they deserve a team in the Premier League," Mandaric told Sky Sports News.

"He is the best solution. He is a very proud man, who has ability and experience.

"They (Portsmouth) have enough good players and with Avram organising them they have a very good chance of getting out of trouble. I hope that is the case."

Grant will no doubt be hoping to turn the tables on United as his last game in charge of Chelsea was the Champions League final of 2008.

It ended in agony for the Israeli with his side losing on penalties in Moscow.

Portsmouth have no doubts Grant can rally the players.

Chief executive officer Peter Storrie said: "Avram is a very experienced and respected manager who has managed at the highest level.

"The board believes he is the man to help steer the club out of the relegation zone.

"He knows the club, the players and the set-up at Fratton Park, so it was the logical move to make him the next manager, once the board had decided to relieve Paul Hart of the role.

"He will take charge of training on Friday alongside first-team coaches Paul Groves and Ian Woan."

Former England midfielder Paul Merson, who had a spell at Portsmouth, fears for the club's status.

He said: "I am shocked and surprised. They had a great team spirit even though they were bottom. This could go completely the other way and turn things upside down.

"Paul Hart brought players in, who were out of favour at their clubs, and gave them a second chance.

"He gave them an unbelivable opportunity to play in the best league in the world. Now he is gone I am worried for Portsmouth. I could see them getting out of trouble, now I am not so sure."

Grant was due to receive his work permit for his director of football role this week and the club have revealed he will at first continue to work in this capacity.

The club will then "go through the process of making the technical change that will allow Avram to become manager".

It adds that this involved "acquiring a new sponsorship number from the Football Association to change his permit status".

Former manager Hart has turned down the chance to remain at the club in a youth team role, the club have confirmed this evening.

Hart had been considering an offer from the club but in a statement released to Sky Sports News tonight, said: "I would like at this time to thank all of the supporters and players for the backing they have given during my time at Portsmouth Football Club.

"The speed of recent events, though, has been somewhat surprising and I am naturally disappointed not to be able to continue in the role at Portsmouth Football Club.

"Unfortunately I do not believe that having been the manager of Portsmouth Football Club I will be able to return to the youth-team role that has been offered to me by the club and it is with deep regret that my time with Portsmouth Football Club has now come to an end.

"However, I look forward to a return to management in the near future."