Goalkeeper David James has backed Portsmouth's pursuit of Sven Goran Eriksson to become their next manager, claiming it would be a statement of intent by the cash-strapped club to employ the former England manager.
"Without a doubt," James said when asked if the appointment would restore the belief that Portsmouth, in the middle of a relegation battle and with owner Sasha Gaydamak looking to sell, were not a club in decline. "If he [Eriksson] is up for the job then why not? As an England manager, he's the second best I have played under. I mean that as a compliment. With the experience he's got, he commands respect even if he did drop me." The best, according to James, is the current England manager Fabio Capello.
Eriksson has been identified by Portsmouth as their No 1 choice to replace Tony Adams who was sacked last weekend with the club just outside the relegation places. Portsmouth have placed academy director Paul Hart in temporary charge, assisted by Brian Kidd, who worked with Eriksson for England for more than a year.
The pressure has continued to grow on Eriksson after Mexico's 2-0 defeat to the United States in a World Cup qualifier on Wednesday. The loss, a third defeat in four, left Mexico in real danger of not qualifying for South Africa next year, but Eriksson insisted: "I still have a running contract and I think that I would be a man without courage if I quit now. We'll keep working. I would not be brave enough if I said 'thank you and good-bye'."
If Eriksson is dismissed and cannot be persuaded to take over at Fratton Park, then Gaydamak, who is being advised by the agent Pini Zahavi, will turn to the club's former director of football Avram Grant who has not worked since being sacked by Chelsea last year. Grant, like Eriksson, is close to Zahavi. The Portsmouth players are believed to have serious reservations about appointing Grant, while many have championed Eriksson's cause.
James admitted that appointing Adams had "possibly" been a mistake, given his lack of experience in managing at Premier League level. "It was difficult taking over from Harry [Redknapp]," he said. "Harry has that idiosyncratic way of managing, the elixir of confidence he has is difficult to follow. I was hoping when Tony took over that he would be a continuation of what we had with Harry. That didn't materialise."