Two games in and Harry Redknapp is already talking about the scrap for survival, which says a lot for the Portsmouth manager's belief, or lack of it, in his side.
Two games in and Harry Redknapp is already talking about the scrap for survival, which says a lot for the Portsmouth manager's belief, or lack of it, in his side. All the more so as they are not newly-promoted and actually survived their rookie Premiership campaign last year by a fair margin. It is surely setting some sort of record for doom-mongering.
Yet the reason for his dark mood in South-east London was clear. The hosts only won because of a freakish own goal by Shaka Hislop after the ball skimmed off David Unsworth's head. Earlier, Portsmouth had to thank Patrik Berger for his stupendous 35-yard volley even to stay in the hunt for a point. A hunt which, as it turned out, thanks to Hislop's ghastly, late error, proved fruitless. And to listen to Redknapp afterwards was to assume things will get worse before they get better.
He said: "It's always going to be hard, I didn't expect it to be different. It's going to be tight. There are going to be a lot of people scrapping to stay out of the bottom. It will be tough for Crystal Palace, West Brom, Norwich, us and a few other clubs."
The former West Ham manager is famous for bemoaning the lack of depth in his squad, which is faintly outrageous given the amount of signings he has made. But long-term injuries to Svetoslav Todorov and Vincent Pericard have depleted his striking options and he is still waiting for international clearance on Ricardo Fuller, the forward he bought last week from Preston.
That meant that after Berger's wonderful, spontaneous swivelling volley - "goal of the season," said Alan Curbishley, the Charlton manager, without a word of exaggeration - the visitors could not press on. Redknapp wanted to take off the ineffective Lomano LuaLua, but his choices on the bench did not let him.
Instead Charlton, initially helped by Jason Euell's smartly taken first-half strike, took the initiative for the win Curbishley craved after their 4-1 drubbing by Bolton on the opening day, and he could also reflect on a fine home debut by the former Liverpool man, Danny Murphy.
Goals: Euell (23) 1-0; Berger (53) 1-1; Hislop og (86) 2-1
Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Kiely; Hreidarsson, Fish, Fortune, Young; Murphy (Konchesky, 83), Kishishev, Euell, Rommedahl (El Karkouri, 89); Bartlett (Jeffers, 77), Lisbie Substitutes not used: Andersen (gk), Hughes.
Portsmouth (3-5-2): Hislop; Primus (Taylor, h-t), Stefanovic, De Zeeuw; Unsworth, Griffin (O'Neil, 74), Quashie, Berkovic (Curtis, 70), Berger; LuaLua, Ayegbeni. Substitutes not used: Ashdown, Schemme.
Booking: Portsmouth: Unsworth.
Referee: A Wiley (Staffs).
Man of the Match: Berger.
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