Hart not laughing all the way to the bank

'Dubai derby' won't be run on level playing field as Pompey paupers struggle to catch up with moneybags City

After the completion of Sulaiman al-Fahim's takeover of Portsmouth in midweek – so belated that it caught everyone by surprise – today's game against Manchester City at Fratton Park might be called the Dubai derby. It is clear, however, that the two clubs do not go into it on anything like equal terms, financial or otherwise.

A year ago, the Abu Dhabi group completed their purchase of City the day before the transfer deadline and promptly allowed Mark Hughes to spend £32m on the stunning capture of Robinho. On Friday, two days after al-Fahim unexpectedly agreed his buyout after all, Portsmouth's manager Paul Hart sat at the modest training ground (one owned by a local school) and admitted: "We're working to a limited budget. There may be some money available in January."

In the meantime, he has managed to bring in Tommy Smith, Michael Brown, Jamie O'Hara, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Aruna Dindane, none of whom exactly qualifies as a marquee signing, while at the same time losing his highly regarded centre-half Sylvain Distin to Everton. With the transfer window extended to Tuesday at 5pm to compensate for the Bank Holiday tomorrow, Hart is hopeful of adding – indeed, is desperate to do so – two more defenders. A bid for John Terry or Rio Ferdinand seems a little unlikely.

Al-Fahim has faced widespread doubt about his financial assets, and the worry is that by January, Ports-mouth will have lost too much ground in the Premier League to make up, however much money he has made available. Hart, once a manager at Chesterfield, Barnsley and Rushden & Diamonds, points out in his dry manner that he has been in much worse situations. "Crikey, when I was at Nottingham Forest I was having meetings with potential administrators. So this is quite nice, compared to that. It needed to be settled and it's taken a long time but now we've got it done."

He was not alone in wondering if that would ever be the case, admitting of the period since he was appointed caretaker manager in February (and later awarded a two-year contract): "We've been in this situation for nine months. It's been a long summer." The positive attitude he hopes to instil in his squad even extends to the three League defeats. "Against Fulham, a goal goes in off somebody's backside and we've had 15 attempts on goal. At Birmingham there's a dubious penalty given against us and Arsenal, it was a sound performance."

City were the visitors for Hart's first game as a Premier League manager six months ago, and were beaten 2-0. It was an emotional day for him, as the son of their former defensive stalwart and manager Johnny Hart (who signed Denis Law from Manchester United). "I was brought up at Maine Road and City were my team," he said.

Having watched the 2009 version win at Crystal Palace on Thursday night, he is impressed by how quickly they are gelling together. It is a remarkable turnaround in personnel as the midfielder Stephen Ireland has pointed out. "If you look at the team that started at Palace," he said, "there was only Micah [Richards], me and Nedum Onuoha left from last season. It's a transformation, isn't it?"

Of the three, Ireland is the most likely to keep his place, his form early on matching that of last season, thanks to a gruelling summer schedule that he put himself through at a martial arts centre in Glossop. "When the kids were off school I couldn't go in because of the holidays, but when they were back I'd drop them at school every morning then go up to Glossop about 8.45am, train until about 1pm. I'd come back, collect my kids, go home, put them to bed about 7pm then go back to do it all again until about 12 at night. I've done that every day, Monday to Friday."

It is the sort of dedication that would appeal to a man like Hart as well as Mark Hughes; and a welcome reminder to the rest of us that all the money in the Arab world cannot buy the perspiration necessary to supplement inspiration.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution