Portsmouth 1 Fulham 0: Win fails to hide Pompey's need for new faces

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The Independent Online

January marks the start of Harry Redknapp's favourite time of year. Why? Not just the chance to make a New Year's resolution, but because the transfer window has re-opened. In his month in charge at Portsmouth he has made it clear that changes are needed and now is his chance to act.

This easy win masked a few of his side's deficiencies, but two players mentioned were Emanuel Olisadebe, the Panathinaikos striker, who could join on a pay-as-you-play basis because of concerns about his knee, and Aston Villa's Mark Delaney. But Redknapp said he did not think the Midlanders would let him go.

He added: "There's some decent players around who will cost decent money, but we'll have a go for a few of them. We'll improve the squad, no question. We're looking to shift some, but we'll be investing a bit."

With two wins and a draw, all at home, in five games, the signs are already there that the players have responded to the man who replaced Alain Perrin early in December.

They have now created some space between themselves and Birmingham City, just below them in the relegation zone.

The next target is overhauling Everton, the gap on whom they would have closed to a point on Saturday if the Merseysiders had not hit a last-minute winner. They should also have improved their goal difference more than they did in beating Fulham, for the visitors failed to pose an attacking threat after Heidar Helguson, their striker, came off injured.

On several occasions Portsmouth's Lomano LuaLua, Dario Silva and Matthew Taylor either shot wildly, or too close to Tony Warner.

Redknapp may need Olisadebe as he will lose LuaLua to the African Cup of Nations in mid-January, but the Congo international did not have his best game. The plaudits went, instead, to Gary O'Neil and Richard Hughes in central midfield, who closed down every loose ball and were sharp in their tackling.

Redknapp said that the pair, who hardly featured in his first stint at the club, had been outstanding. O'Neil's goal, which he admitted he might have handballed, was easy enough after Silva's cross rebounded to him off Zat Knight six yards out.

The visitors' mounting injury list is a worry for Chris Coleman, Fulham's manager, who was without Papa Bouba Diop, Steed Malbranque, Mark Crossley, his goalkeeper, and the right-back Moritz Volz.

He has no guarantee of getting sufficient funds to strengthen his squad. In fact, he might just spend January fending off interest in the likes of Luis Boa Morte and Diop. Coleman has said that he hates the transfer window. Redknapp, in contrast, loves it.

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