Mandaric waits for right man

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The Independent Football

Portsmouth are willing to turn to their former manager Harry Redknapp if Neil Warnock decides against taking over at Fratton Park. The Premiership club are also drawing up plans to appoint either Sir Bobby Robson or David Pleat to work alongside a younger manager. If Robson is given the job it is understood that he would want Motherwell's Terry Butcher while Pleat is said to favour Brentford's Martin Allen - a former Portsmouth player - or Rotherham's Mick Harford.

However, all the various scenarios are contingent on Warnock declining Portsmouth's approach. Last night he was waiting for a counter-offer from his present employers, Sheffield United. It is understood that if Warnock is given a pay rise by the Championship club and the length of contract he wants - his current deal runs out next summer - then he may stay.

It appears that the 57-year-old is in a quandary as to what to do and although Portsmouth believe that he will make the move to the South Coast it is unlikely to be before United's Sheffield derby next Saturday. Warnock is also believed to want a significant compensation package included in his contract if he is sacked - not an unwise demand given Portsmouth have had eight managers in six years.

Warnock has had meetings with the United chairman Kevin McCabe, who has said that he will give him whatever he wants to stay. Portsmouth expect to hear today whether they will be given permission to speak to their No 1 target.

They have already been denied the opportunity to talk to Crystal Palace's Iain Dowie, while another name on their short-list, Alex McLeish, has indicated that he wants to take a sabbatical once he leaves Rangers, which will probably happen next month.

Portsmouth had set Warnock a deadline of last night to decide, but have now extended that because they are sympathetic to his situation. However, they are determined to have their new manager in place before they play Tottenham Hotspur on 12 December.

The return of Redknapp, who walked out a year ago to take over at Portsmouth's bitterest rivals, would be sensational. A campaign has started in the local media and has not gone unnoticed by the Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric - although he has also noted that Redknapp moved to Southampton at the same point in the season and did not prevent them from being relegated.

The other possibilities are also intriguing with the most likely solution, after Warnock, appearing the appointment of Pleat in tandem with a younger coach.