Portsmouth 0 Everton 0: Neville criticises allegations against Redknapp the revivalist

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The Independent Football

Least said, soonest mended. Certainly as regards this pitiful game, which boiled down to a scrap between midfield scufflers.

When the ball did reach the penalty area, the defenders barely needed to show anything more than average competence to outwit their opposition.

And least said certainly about the topic everyone wanted to talk about was the approach taken on Saturday by Harry Redknapp. The Portsmouth manager was arrested, along with four other men, last Wednesday and questioned by police over alleged corruption in the game.

He then gave a press conference on Thursday where he read out a statement declaring his innocence and anger. The approach after this match was that all questions should be strictly about football and nothing else, or Redknapp would walk out.

Which was a shame, because in terms of football, there was nothing to talk about. Two teams who have scored seven goals in a game this season Everton pulling that off last week contrived instead, with one striker each up front, to serve up a deadly dull game, pock-marked with ineptitude.

Sulley Muntari went for goal in the last minute but his left-footed shank from 25 yards that went out for a throw-in summed up a frustrating afternoon.

Redknapp, with Pedro Mendes his best player, pointed out his team's unbeaten run now stands at 10 league games, while his Everton counterpart, David Moyes, last lost in the Merseyside derby in October and has now gone eight games unbeaten, across three competitions.

But the former West Ham manager did speak out before the game, to distance himself from the allegations. Redknapp said: "Because I've got a Cockney accent, I'm perceived as some sort of barrow boy. Sure I've bought and sold a lot of players.

"But that's because every team I've taken over hasn't been very good. I couldn't tell you the wages of any of my players as I have nothing to do with the money side of the club.

"I know people will be thinking 'Harry always says it's nothing to do with him'. But it is nothing to do with me." With Portsmouth players saying these allegations have not worried them, Phil Neville added his voice to the support for Redknapp.

The Everton right-back has never been managed by him but was still glowing in his praise.

He said: "Everyone has been looking on in amazement. Everyone in the game holds Harry Redknapp in the highest of regard and that's not changed, even with the slurs against him.

"Ask any player who's played for him, people like Jamo [David James] and Sol Campbell, and he's totally revitalised their careers. It shows what a good man he is.

"I think the whole of football is behind Harry Redknapp. I don't think there's one person in football who thinks he's a bad man or done anything wrong. Sometimes you need someone high profile to get yourself on the front page and make everyone aware of these investigations that are going on. But there's no firm evidence that these people who keep getting dragged through the mud are actually guilty."

Portsmouth (4-1-4-1): James; G Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Pamarot; Mendes; Utaka (Kanu, 57), Diop, Muntari, Kranjcar; Mwaruwari. Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Hreidarsson, Nugent, Taylor

Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Neville, Yobo, Lescott, Valente; Arteta, Osman, Carsley, Pienaar (A Johnson, 53); Cahill; Yakubu (Anichebe, 67). Substitutes not used: Wessels (gk), Hibbert, Jagielka.

Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire)

Booked: Portsmouth Muntari; Everton Cahill, Pienaar.

Man of the match: Mendes.

Attendance: 20,102.

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