Portsmouth yesterday took steps to remedy their disastrous start to the season by appointing Gary McAllister as Paul Hart's assistant at the club – a move that would appear to show new owner Sulaiman al-Fahim's faith in his embattled manager.
McAllister's appointment is expected to be announced today, less than two years since he was sacked from his last job managing Leeds. He joins with Portsmouth having lost their first seven games in the league, a feat unparalleled in the top flight for 79 years, and concerns over the financial capabilities of the club's new owner Fahim.
McAllister was a team-mate at Leeds of Gordon Strachan, who has been linked with the Portsmouth manager's job. However, it is understood that there are no immediate plans to get rid of Hart and that Hart is behind the appointment of McAllister.
Despite the desperate situation at Portsmouth, McAllister, 44, has still judged the No 2 role at the club preferable to the equivalent with the Scotland team, a job he declined to take earlier this month when he was sounded out by the current manager George Burley. He will become a senior figure in Hart's current coaching set-up following the departure of Brian Kidd to join Manchester City last month.
Since then, Hart has relied on Paul Groves, the former Barnsley manager as his assistant. He was Leeds academy director when McAllister was a player at the club. Hart's son Jamie works as a Fifa-licensed agent for the influential football agency Wasserman Group, which represents McAllister.
McAllister's appointment should signal to Portsmouth fans that there is a plan in place to save the club's season after the chaos of the last four months. McAllister was manager at Leeds for 11 months, having taken over from Dennis Wise. Before then he was in charge of Coventry City until he resigned in 2004 to care for his wife, Denise, who subsequently lost her battle with cancer.
The appointment of McAllister is to go ahead before the club's chief executive, Peter Storrie, ratifies the £50m of funding that Fahim has claimed he has secured from investors in America. The club claim to have saved £30m on the wage bill and raised £75m in fees with the sale of all their big names apart from the goalkeeper David James.
Storrie has portrayed himself as the club's saviour over the last month, revelling in the praise of the crowd at Fratton Park on Saturday during a home defeat to Everton. One of the highest-paid executives in the Premier League, he has, however, been frustrated at Fahim's failure to come up with money of his own to invest in the club.
The sale of Glen Johnson and Peter Crouch in the summer saved Portsmouth from administration, although even then Storrie has claimed that he was forced to "pull off miracles" to keep creditors at bay. The former owner Alexandre Gaydamak, who sold to Fahim rather than a consortium put together by Storrie, has retained a place on the board to protect debts owed to him by the club of around £26m.
The club were also forced to pay all their broadcast revenue received from the Premier League in August direct to Standard Bank, their main creditor. They are yet to start work on their new training ground, which to go ahead would require a serious injection of cash from Fahim or any potential new investor.
Despite this, McAllister has agreed to join Hart. Storrie gave the Portsmouth manager his backing after Saturday's defeat and Fahim, who attended a fans' forum last week, appears too caught up in raising investment to replace his manager, whose next game is at Wolves on Saturday.