Strachan ruled out of Portsmouth post

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The Independent Football

Gordon Strachan last night ruled himself out of the running to become the new manager of Portsmouth - increasing the likelihood that executive director Velimir Zajec will remain in charge.

Gordon Strachan last night ruled himself out of the running to become the new manager of Portsmouth - increasing the likelihood that executive director Velimir Zajec will remain in charge.

An announcement could be made as early as today although the Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric - in consultation with Zajec - does have two other candidates in mind. Both are currently in jobs and need to gain permission from their present clubs before talks can proceed.

However so impressed has Mandaric been with Zajec and coach Joe Jordan that he may retain the pair in charge of the first team and shelf until the end of the season the role he had assigned to the Croat to rebuild the club's youth academy and scouting system. Indeed it is possible that Strachan - or another candidate such as Crystal Palace's Iain Dowie who is much admired by Mandaric - may be approached next summer.

Before yesterday's unlucky defeat to Arsenal, Portsmouth had collected eight points from four games, including away matches at Liverpool and Newcastle, and in his programme notes Mandaric had pointedly - given the criticisms during his fall-out with Harry Redknapp - praised the hard work Zajec had done on the training ground.

Strachan was always an unlikely appointment although he did meet Portsmouth director Terry Brady on Thursday and discussions continued over the weekend. However the Scot had made plain that he would want full control of transfer dealings - which would not be granted - and was concerned about the possible interference from Zajec and also the backlash he could expect as a former manager of Southampton taking over their bitterest local rivals. That is something Redknapp is discovering having made the journey the other way.

Last night Brady said: "I had a cup of coffee in London with Gordon to discuss the matter. Gordon has come to the conclusion at this part of his career that the timing is not right and he can't force himself to make the move from Southampton to Pompey so soon after leaving St Mary's. Therefore negotiations will not be concluded but Gordon nevertheless thinks this is a fantastic club with a wonderful atmosphere and he has the greatest respect for both."

Strachan is also understood to be on the shortlist to eventually succeed Kevin Keegan at Manchester City.

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