Pompey to confirm Zajec as manager

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The Independent Online

Velimir Zajec will today be confirmed as manager of Portsmouth. The Croatian will be teamed with the coach Joe Jordan after the club's chairman Milan Mandaric realised that he would struggle to improve upon the work the two have done in a caretaker role following the departure of Harry Redknapp.

Velimir Zajec will today be confirmed as manager of Portsmouth. The Croatian will be teamed with the coach Joe Jordan after the club's chairman Milan Mandaric realised that he would struggle to improve upon the work the two have done in a caretaker role following the departure of Harry Redknapp.

The appointment of Zajec will annoy Redknapp - now in charge at Southampton - who believed that the former Panathinaikos manager was brought in to undermine him when he was handed the post of executive director and given control of transfers.

Portsmouth had discussions with Gordon Strachan but these broke down after the former Southampton manager made it plain that he did not believe he could work under the regime envisaged by Mandaric and - crucially - was concerned at the backlash from fans.

Mandaric has been impressed by the 47-year-old Zajec, although he insists he did not bring him in to manage the club. His role was supposed to include a revamping of Portsmouth's youth policy and scouting system. However, Zajec, who captained the former Yugoslavia, has impressed with an away win against Bolton and draws away to Liverpool and Newcastle before Sunday's defeat to Arsenal.

Last night Mandaric, who refused to confirm the appointment, said: "He [Zajec] was never coming here as manager but as executive director in charge of football activities. But we have a man who, as far as I'm concerned, can match any manager."

Mandaric could review the situation at the end of the current season. He is believed to remain keen on Crystal Palace's manager Iain Dowie.

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