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Portsmouth 2 Manchester City 0: Pompey's Hart is too much for City

16 February 2009 12:18
Number of words in Sol Campbell's programme notes: 340. Number of sentences urging players to put the past behind them: 25. Number of references to Tony Adams: None.

Condemned by the captain in his official club column and consigned to history after just 15 Barclays Premier League games in charge, Adams is nothing more than a trivial footnote in Portsmouth's

111-year history.

They have traded a man alone with his thoughts for a man-manager, promoting Paul Hart to the position of firefighter and asking Brian Kidd to step in and help douse the flames.



New beginning: Hermann Hreidarsson seals the first win of the post-Adams era

Instead of kicking the seats in the dugout, as Adams did when Fernando Torres headed Liverpool's

90th-minute winner at Fratton Park the previous weekend, these impressive figures kept their cool in combat.

They wanted to get it right, the two men trusted with masterminding the club's first victory in the Barclays Premier League since they beat Blackburn

on November 30. In the end, they did it with something to spare.

Perhaps it was Hart's sports quiz at the team hotel on Friday night, a leaf straight out of Don Revie's book when he used to call Two Fat Ladies or Tweak of the Thumb at Leeds in the Seventies.

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'We had a quiz, but it was sport and I'm no good at that,' admitted Hart.

'The lads had a laugh because I brought the carpet bowls, but I never got them out. They did it at Leeds, but it was before my time.'

Record breaker: Portsmouth and England No 1 David James kept a commanding clean sheet to honour his record 536th Premier League appearance

Or perhaps it was Pompey's determination to keep a clean sheet for the first time since mid-November, honouring David James as he overtook Gary Speed on his way to becoming the Premier League's record appearance-maker with a stately 536.

Either way, it worked a treat for the temporary manager, picking off this shocking City team when Glen Johnson's electrifying performance was rewarded with a goal and Hermann Hreidarsson headed an impressive second.

'We played something a bit different,' revealed Hart.

'Discipline in defending was vital because City

can hurt you. Elano and Robinho play for Brazil, so we couldn't take things lightly, but we had players who believed in the system and worked hard at it.

'In terms of defending, we delivered an almost flawless performance and that's a good base. Clean sheets are what I base everything on.

'I didn't watch Brazil in midweek, but I can't say there is a particular way to play these guys at City because someone might pinch it. There are a lot of snobs in football, but there is no right way or wrong way.'

On Saturday, the snobs were wearing City shirts, talented individuals who seem incapable of transferring their outrageous reputations on to a football field week in, week out.

Man of the match Glen Johnson and Jermaine Pennant are congratulated after their win by Pompey's caretaker duo Brian Kidd and Paul Hart (R)



With the exceptions of Shay Given and young Shaleum Logan, making his first League start after Micah Richards failed to recover from an ankle injury, this is about as bad as it has ever been under the Sheik.

Robinho and Elano, majestic in Brazil's 2-0 victory over Italy on Wednesday, were disinterested, leaving their team-mates to plod pathetically to defeat.

Craig Bellamy gave it a little go, clattering into Hreidarsson then escaping a straight red when he swung a haymaker in the direction of Belhadj.

Poor Mark Hughes is responsible for this madhouse, a collection of world beaters one day and wasters the next.

'The reason we lost is because we didn't show enough drive and determination,' he conceded.

Not so Brazil-iant: A below-par Robinho is substituted by City manager Mark Hughes after a disappointing afternoon at Fratton Park for the Brazil superstar



'Elano and Robinho didn't create enough space for themselves, but that can be levelled at almost every player in our team. I'm not going to highlight those two because it would be unfair on them and too charitable to the other players.'

Robinho was dragged off after 67 minutes, replaced by Ecuador striker Felipe Caicedo without success.

It is becoming a familiar theme with this team, frustrating for their talented manager and infuriating for the legions of supporters who follow them.

'We need a bit more accountability because we were aware that we could have gone seventh in the table with a win,' added Hughes.

'Unfortunately we weren't up to it.'

Worse than that, they were not even up for it.

MATCH FACTS

PORTSMOUTH (4-4-2): James 6; Johnson 8, Campbell 7, Distin 6, Hreidarsson 7; Pennant 6 (Belhadj 86), Basinas 5 (Mullins 67min, 6), Davis 7, Kranjcar 6; Crouch 6, Nugent 5. Booked: Hreidarsson.

MANCHESTER CITY (4-2-3-1): Given 6; Logan 6, Kompany 4, Onouha 6, Bridge 5; De Jong 4, Zabaleta 4 (Evans 78, 5); Ireland 4, Robinho 4 (Caicedo 67, 5), Elano 4; Bellamy 5. Booked: De Jong, Bellamy.

Man of the match: Glen Johnson. Referee: Lee Probert.

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Source: Daily_Mail