Redknapp looks over his shoulder

Portsmouth 1 Manchester City 3
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If Portsmouth seriously believe they need more background staff ahead of players, this humiliation should have proved them wrong.

If Portsmouth seriously believe they need more background staff ahead of players, this humiliation should have proved them wrong.

The match was the first since the chairman, Milan Mandaric, appointed Velimir Zajec, formerly director of football at Panathinaikos, as "executive director''. Probably, Zajec has never worked with anyone who is as much his own man as Harry Redknapp. The manager said after the game: "I'm not leaving. I've got a job to do. I'm not walking out. I just want to get on with it."

Redknapp will not stand for interference. He knows that last season he had to scuttle around the Continent looking for bargain players to keep the club in the top division and still put his time in at the training ground. All he wanted was money to increase the squad, not a shadow on his shoulder.

Kevin Keegan's week was not much better, with Nicolas Anelka criticising his colleagues for failing to stroll over poorer teams and confirmation of the club's debt giving little hope of buying safety.

Fearful of the rumours of his imminent departure, the fans gave Redknapp a rousing reception as he accepted his Manager of the Month award. Six minutes later, there was silence as Nigel Quashie lost possession in the box. Shaun Wright-Phillips dodged one way then the other to confuse debutant keeper Jamie Ashdown and score comfortably.

The lead lasted two minutes. A Pompey counter-attack by David Unsworth ended with a driven cross that Gary O'Neil efficiently glanced in. But Wright-Phillips' speed and extraordinary dexterity forced Redknapp to call on Unsworth to mark him more tightly. It was a vain hope. In a rare counter, Amdy Faye headed dead on target but David James tipped over.

If goals had been balanced out, so were injuries. City lost Anelka and Pompey saw LuaLua limp off. Portsmouth are short of strikers and brought on midfielder Eyal Berkovic behind lone forward Ricardo Fuller, who was not fully fit. But they had no equivalent of the dazzling Wright-Phillips, who frequently glided past three or four opponents.

City stretched Portsmouth mercilessly, and only fine keeping by Ashdown stopped a rout. One diving deflection from substitute Robbie Fowler was breathtaking.

For most of the second half Portsmouth rarely emerged from their half. The midfield could not support the struggling Fuller and City indulged in almost unremitting possession that, surprisingly, was not rewarded again until 10 minutes from the end. Fowler strolled down the right and comfortably found Anton Sibierski who, unmarked, drilled the ball inside the near post.

City should have scored again as Wright-Phillips broke away on another long run only to pass instead of finishing. Near the end his close-range shot hit Ashdown, Paul Bosvelt knocking in the rebound. Keegan called Wright-Phillips "potentially the best player in England, and one with a big heart after the racist treatment he received in Spain".

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