Mandaric claims cut-price imports are only option

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The Independent Football

The Professional Footballers' Association chief executive, Gordon Taylor, reacted to the influx of overseas talent at Fratton Park by stating that clubs like Pompey should invest more heavily in home-grown talent. Mandaric, however, makes no apologies for the assortment of nationalities and defended his foreign policy by highlighting the prohibitive cost of English players.

"We seem to have come under the scrutiny of PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor recently," he said.

"It's important to start by saying the team we've built is one that's going to progress Pompey this season. My first and foremost obligation is to the football club and its supporters.

"Therefore, I think Mr Taylor was a little out of order berating the number of foreign players we have in our side. Look around the Premier League teams on Saturday and then tell me we were alone or even the most excessive in the use of foreign players.

"We weren't. The pressure on me, and the club, is to get results next Saturday, and the one after that, so I'm afraid that means we have to make decisions in the here and now.

"Should I shell out £6m for a British striker, which was what I was quoted for somebody who plays in the division below us, when there are better alternatives abroad both as players and in value?

"It's not even pure economics, it's pure commonsense. If they're saying this then perhaps they should come and put their money into this club and see how it works when you are in the firing line.

"We are bringing on players like Matty Taylor, Richard Hughes, Jamie Ashdown and Gary O'Neil. In waiting we have Richard Duffy, loaned out to gain experience at a high level.

"We also have James Keene and the like who are promising players, but that has to be balanced with our situation now and if there are quality players abroad who fit the bill for Pompey's purpose then is that my problem?"

While Pompey's enthusiasm to bring in overseas players has won them few fans, the heaviest criticism has been reserved for their performances on the pitch which have seen the manager, Alain Perrin, come under heavy fire.

Reports suggested Perrin had just five more games to safeguard his Fratton Park future after securing just one point from the opening four matches, with Saturday's 1-0 victory at Everton at least temporarily strengthening his position. But Mandaric has strongly denied suggestions that the Frenchman - who is second favourite to become the first Premiership managerial casualty of the season - is on borrowed time.

"Alain Perrin has acted with the greatest of dignity throughout the last week in the face of hysterical questions," he said. "The hype all came from our start and some of the things I heard were bordering on hysteria.

"We had played well against Aston Villa and should have won. A defensive error lost the game at Manchester City so we knew we were not far away but did acknowledge that we needed additional players before the transfer window closed, which we duly brought in.

"No one should get carried away with the win at Everton, just like no one should have got carried away with the opening results. We deserved the win against Everton and could have won by more."