Portsmouth 1 West Bromwich 0: Redknapp's pack in need of reshuffle

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The Independent Football

As the final whistle was blown at Fratton Park, The Levellers' "What a Beautiful Day" was heard blaring from the loudspeakers - a song about a revolution of optimism and idealism against grim reality. It provided a neat ambiguity, as Pompey fans will still be wondering if the first home game of the second Harry Redknapp era will be the start of a revolution or just a nice day out.

Redknapp himself was cautious after watching a performance that was full of guts but lacking in true Premiership class, as a disappointing West Bromwich Albion were beaten by a cool second-half finish from Svetoslav Todorov.

"I'm not going to stand here and say we can do this or that," said Redknapp, who was welcomed back to Fratton Park by a wayward parachutist who misjudged his landing and thudded into the South Stand. "It's going to be hard. Look at the table, look at our squad. I had to get blood out of them today and we're going to have to play like that every week."

Portsmouth's players were clearly playing at full tilt for their prodigal manager but as they pushed harder, so their lack of quality became more evident and Redknapp was quick to distance himself from what happened to the team under former manager Alain Perrin.

"I can only play with the hand I've been dealt," he said. "It's not my hand - it's someone else's. The squad's bare and it's got no balance. We've not got a right-sided player, which is crazy at this level, and we're short on strikers.

"We had a good team here [last year] and it would only have got better," he added, begging the question of why he left in the first place. "Now, a lot of the players who were squad players last year are in the first team."

With the January transfer window looming, things need to change fast, but Redknapp knows it would be disastrous to splash the cash and then get relegated. "I've said to [Portsmouth chairman] Milan Mandaric, 'If we're not in the race in January, keep your money in your pocket.'"

Portsmouth are already at their limit for loan players and their manager denied he was lining up a move for Manchester City's Robbie Fowler. Yet Saturday undoubtedly provided some hope. "If we'd have lost, we'd really be staring down the barrel, but this will be a massive help," Redknapp said.

Albion are now only three points away, but perhaps the biggest positive was the reaction of the home fans, who were a major part of the aura that surrounded Fratton Park when the likes of Manchester United perished there last year.

There was no chanting of Redknapp's name, but it was as good a reception as a man who deserted the team for their bitter south coast rivals, Southampton, could have expected.

"They'll find it hard to show, but I think they're pleased to see me back," he said. "I just want to prove to them that we can do it on the pitch and show them that I'm not on some ego trip."

Goal: Todorov (56) 1-0.

Portsmouth (4-4-2): Ashdown; Primus, O'Brien, Stefanovic, Griffin; O'Neil, Hughes, Taylor, Robert; LuaLua, Péricard (Todorov, 6; Priske, 89). Substitutes not used: Westerveld (gk), Cissé, Viafara.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Kuszczak; Albrechtsen, Davies, Clement, Robinson; Kamara (Earnshaw, 65), Wallwork, Inamoto, Greening (Campbell, 89); Ellington, Kanu. Substitutes not used: Kirkland (gk), Moore, Carter.

Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire).

Booked: PortsmouthTaylor; WBA Wallwork.

Man of the match: Taylor.

Attendance: 20,052.

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