Grant rouses Portsmouth passion for Wembley finale
Portsmouth 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Sunday 02 May 2010
This ground may be a long way from Stirling and Avram Grant would never be confused with Mel Gibson, but the Portsmouth manager did a decent Braveheart impression after he was given a fine send-off. Aruna Dindane, John Utaka and Michael Brown scored to give Portsmouth their seventh win of the season and ensure the home fans are in good spirits before they head to Wembley in two weeks' time.
It was the perfect way to bid farewell to Grant, who is keeping mum on whether he will lead Portsmouth in the Championship. But he left having made it clear he believes the way in which they went down – through a nine-point deduction from the Premier League for going into administration – is an injustice.
He and the players went on to the pitch after the final whistle for a lap of honour, before the Israeli took the mic for his rousing and emotional speech – with a barb aimed at the Premier League.
He said: "If anyone in the world wants a lesson about passion and commitment, then Fratton Park is the place. They can take points from us, put an embargo on us, but they cannot destroy our spirit – never!"
Later Grant praised the spirit of the players, who played with freedom that comes from battling through a long and dismal season. He said: "The spirit is great, I think what you saw today you saw most of the season. It was very important in the last home game to show what we had done all season. If it was only football, there is no doubt we could stay in the [Premier] League."
But on whether he would stay, he said: "I don't know, I love this club and it will always be in my heart. But first we need to know what the future is with the club. We need to wait and see whether the club will be in a position to start rebuilding again."
Brown sealed a fine win for Pompey, who were up against a Wolves side with one eye on their summer break, having had their safety confirmed last week. The midfielder was playing with an unfamiliar calmness in contrast to his short-tempered performances throughout the season, making the side tick from the centre of the park .
Dindane had set the side on their way with the easiest of headers from Brown's free-kick, before Kevin Doyle replied by knocking in the rebound after a point-blank save by David James from Robert Zubar. Utaka sent Pompey ahead with a goal out of nothing, before Brown's goal sent fans off in party mood with their FA Cup final date in two weeks' time.
Mick McCarthy, the Wolves manager, admitted his side were suffering a hangover from the euphoria of surviving in the Premier League for another season. "The performance was below what we have been producing and I think I can forgive that little bit of a dip in performance, having been tight as piano wire for the last 36 games," he said.
Referee: Michael Jones
Man of the match: Brown
Match rating: 8/10
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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