Grant hits out at owner's false promises

Pompey manager angry after Al-Faraj goes back on his word to buy four players
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The Independent Football

Avram Grant, the Portsmouth manager, yesterday launched a bitter attack on the club's owner Ali al-Faraj and accused him of breaking promises made when Grant took over two months ago.

Grant said he had been told he would be able to buy four players during the January window when he was appointed manager in November after Paul Hart had been sacked. Instead he has seen defender Younes Kaboul and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic sold behind his back to pay bills. What is more, the Premier League has siphoned off £2m from those sales to cover money owed to Chelsea and Watford.

The only players to join were former Arsenal striker Quincy Owusu-Abeyie on loan from Spartak Moscow, and Jamie O'Hara on loan from Tottenham. Grant is also hoping to recruit former Spurs defender Ricardo Rocha, who is a free agent after being released by Standard Liege.

Grant considered resigning over the transfers last week but has stayed in the job because he recognises his departure would only make things worse. The club, who play Fulham at Craven Cottage tonight, have debts of £60m, have not paid their players this month, and face a winding-up order from HM Revenue and Customs a week today. Pompey yesterday failed to meet a deadline to repay £9m owed to former owner Sacha Gaydamak.

Grant said: "I'm not a quitter and I'm not afraid of problems. But I'm very, very disappointed with the situation off the pitch and that people cannot do what they promised me.

"When I came to the team, I knew the situation was not good with the football side, but they promised me everything was good with the financial side and that we would bring four players more. We needed to bring in players so that the squad could be good, especially as we had a lot of injuries in the team. There was a lot of pressure on a very short squad and we didn't have time to let players who were coming back from injury ease their way back into the squad. We've had injuries, as we thought we would have, and instead of bringing in two players, we sold two players."

Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie admitted last week he and Grant felt like quitting over the decision to sell Kaboul and Begovic. In press conferences Grant has always maintained that Portsmouth can still avoid relegation, despite being five points adrift at the foot of the Premier League table. But yesterday he was far more pessimistic.

Grant said: "I will not speak about this [whether Portsmouth can survive]. I said from the beginning that if we followed our programme, we finished December five points behind the team just outside the relegation zone, and we brought in four players, we would stay in the League. Now I can promise that we will do everything to win every game we play, but we will not think about the end of the season."