Though his club's affairs continued to appear as clear as the mudflats off Hayling Island, Avram Grant yesterday attempted to focus Portsmouth's squad on this afternoon's daunting fixture at Old Trafford.
"I always believe – and I do not want to see anyone in my team who does not believe," he said. "This is football – anything can happen." But he added: "I saw Manchester United in their last game against Arsenal: OK, they played a bit quick for us, but you always have to face up to the challenge in a positive way."
Grant received good news with the belated return from the Africa Cup of Nations of Kanu, and an extension of defender Marc Wilson's contract. However, uncertainty still surrounded the ownership of striker Aruna Dindane, and the club itself.
In France, Lens claimed Dindane was now a Portsmouth player and they awaited the first slice of a £3.5m transfer fee. But Portsmouth insisted the Ivorian had not played the number of games required to trigger the conversion of the deal from loan to transfer.
Meanwhile, the new owner, Balman Chainrai, denied that status. He told the South China Morning Post: "I have zero interest in buying Portsmouth and it's completely untrue that I am the new owner of the club. As far as I am concerned, I have just confiscated the shares of the previous owners. It's nothing to do with controlling the club. I don't know anything about running a football club."
Chainrai added he was seeking a new buyer, and expected to find one. All of which means the Premier League's demand that he pass its "Fit and Proper Person's Test" is meaningless. The only sanction the League can impose is to insist he sells. That is what Chainrai says he intends to do anyway. "Believe me, someone will come in and buy this club. This is Premier League football we are talking about," he said.