Profligate Pompey pay a high price

Portsmouth 0 Everton 1

Starting a season with seven successive losses can induce intimations of doom in even the most optimistic supporter, but tuning in to local radio as they departed Fratton Park should have given Pompey fans a sense of perspective. Bitter rivals Southampton were playing at Carlisle United. Saints' draw at Brunton Park left them, following their post-administration points deduction, on minus one, still 10 points adrift of safety.

However, Southampton's fate, while a source of joy to Pompey fans, is a reminder of how fragile a team's top-flight status can be. Portsmouth's new owner, Sulaiman al-Fahim, dismisses claims that administration looms, and promises a £50m cash injection. Yet without the annual subsidy of Premier League TV money Portsmouth, with their outdated, low-revenue-producing ground, could slide just as far and fast.

Thus the pressure is on Paul Hart to halt the losing run, the worst in the top flight in 79 years. Hart is convinced that first point, and victory, is just around the corner. All struggling managers say this but Pompey's performance against Everton on Saturday provided ample justification for his faith.

Aaron Mokoena headed against the bar, Leighton Baines cleared Hassan Yebda's header off the line, Tim Howard denied Aruna Dindane, Tal Ben Haim and Kevin-Prince Boateng. Hart blamed profligate finishing rather than luck, and Louis Saha underlined his point with the well- taken goal which settled the game.

It was Saha's seventh of the season. "He is looking some player," said David Moyes. "He has played in a World Cup semi-final and is a talent. It was about getting him fit and believing he can do it again." How Hart must hope one of his free transfer acquisitions proves so successful. "I believe I have the players to get us out of this position," Hart said. "They have shown a very good attitude and there were signs from lots of players that they were comfortable and knew what they were doing."

Yesterday, Hart received his latest vote of confidence from Peter Storrie, the chief executive. "It's OK people saying, 'Go and change things', but look at the performance," Storrie said. "We think we can build on it. You'd be daft and stupid to change it."

Storrie also refuted reports he was thinking of walking away himself. "Sulaiman has said publicly there's £50m coming, so on that basis I'm happy to stay and continue to work with the club," he said. "Making sure the club is sound and the finances come in has always been the main issue for me."

Fine words, but anyone who seriously thinks Storrie would voluntarily leave a post that paid him £1.2m in 2007-08 financial year, is naïve. That description might also fit the home fans who chanted Storrie's name. He signed the cheques throughout the spendthrift period which has left the club teetering on bankruptcy.

Living the dream brought an FA Cup triumph and a European adventure which included leading Milan 2-0 less than a year ago, but now the reckoning has arrived and Hart is the man dealing with it. "We have wiped £30m off the wage bill, and brought in £75m in transfer fees in nine months," he said. As a result there was only one starter involved in Pompey's 2008 FA Cup win, Sylvain Distin, in an Everton shirt.

"A lot has happened at this club financially in the last 12 months," Hart added. "The club is in need of money. So I don't personally expect that £50m will be for me to spend."

This suggests the current squad will have to carry Portsmouth to safety. There are signs the talent is there with Dindane, Tommy Smith, Boateng and the on-loan Jamie O'Hara impressing. Now, said Moyes, who has known bad times as well as good at Goodison Park, they need time. "Paul is handling it very well," he said. "We've been at the bottom and the key is supporting your manager and your players. Portsmouth need some stability, somebody has to be allowed to bed it down."

Portsmouth (4-4-2): James; Vanden Borre, Kaboul, Wilson, Ben Haim; Boateng, Mokoena (Yebda, 72), Brown (Kanu, 80), O'Hara; Smith (Webber, 89), Dindane. Substitutes not used: Begovic (gk), Mullins, Williamson, Belhadj.

Everton (4-1-4-1): Howard; Heitinga, Yobo, Distin, Baines; Rodwell; Osman (Hibbert, 73), Cahill, Fellaini, Pienaar (Bilyaletdinov, 59); Saha (Jo, 89). Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Gosling, Yakubu, Neill.

Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).

Booked: Everton Rodwell, Yobo, Fellaini.

Man of the match: Smith.

Attendance: 18,116.

Worst in 79 years... but United hold record

*Not since Manchester United lost their opening 12 games in 1930-31 has a team begun a top-flight season as poorly as Portsmouth. Liverpool lost their first eight in 1899-1900, while Bolton lost seven in 1902-03.

News
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
people70-year-old was most famous for 'You are So Beautiful'
News
people
Life and Style
fashionOne man takes the hipster trend to the next level
News
John Rees-Evans is standing for Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'