One could argue yesterday’s 2-1 loss to Tottenham was a wake-up call, a call to suggest that maybe Paul Hart’s managerial reign should come to an end.
Although largely appreciated by the fans, Hart has only managed to gain 3 points out of a possible 27 in the last nine league games.
For however much emotion, spirit or character the 56-year-old shows, fans must remember that football is ideally a results business.
The team of late have been playing attractive football, rather at a slow pace, but nevertheless attractive. Midfielder Kevin Prince-Boateng has flourished in the attacking-midfield position, while striker Tommy Smith has remained an offensive threat to the opposition.
If Pompey were to keep Hart on as manager, due to the reason they have been ‘unlucky’, or that the attractive football will pay off soon enough, it would be rather hypocritical.
For example, former manager Tony Adams was sacked for failing to put points on the table, despite playing attractive football and having the odd slice of misfortune.
Adams was sacked by the club on 9 February 2009, after just 16 games in charge with Portsmouth only managing 10 points.
Under Adams’ reign, Portsmouth were cited as playing good, attractive football with the added Dutch influence from then assistant manager, John Metgood.
- Adams – similarities between him and Hart
If one example was present of Adams’ misfortune, it would have been one of his first few games in charge, against Wigan Athletic at home. In dire conditions, Pompey eventually lost the game 2-1, despite hitting the woodwork three times and having an effort scrambled off the line.
The difference between Adams’ reign and Hart’s, is that the players seem to support the current manager more than ever.
Recently, makeshift captain Aaron Mokoena was found speaking to his old friends, the Daily Star. Speaking about the manager, the South African said: ‘He stood his ground and he fought for the team. He loves us, he loves Pompey and the players he’s brought in.
‘The players have responded to the manager because he doesn’t want to be a coward.’
Adams enjoyed little or no support from his senior players, including ‘keeper David James. After Adams left the club, Jamo was quick to criticise the former Arsenal captain.
He said: ‘I think the time was right (to change the manager).
‘Things weren’t good in the dressing room. It was all too quiet at a time when the players needed guidance. The team needs to be organised and to understand one another, and that wasn’t happening.’
James is foreseen as one of the senior players, if not the senior player at the club. If a manager is underperforming in his view, fans can gather this suggests the manager has lost the dressing room.
This is why it is important to remember that James has often praised Paul Hart and his managerial skills.
Although a long time ago, speaking after Hart’s first game in charge, James said then: ‘With Harty and Kiddo all they do is talk about football.
‘They never shut up. It is not ranting and raving, but they talk and make their view clear. This is what is needed.’
- Kidd – moved on to pastures new.
Out of 25 games in charge, Hart has won seven, drawn five and lost thirteen. His record is marginally better than Adams’, with the former England international winning four games out of a possible twenty-two, drawing seven and losing eleven.
One significant difference between last season and this season is the obvious departure of Paul Hart’s right-hand man, Brian Kidd.
Despite being offered the opportunity to carry on at the club, Kidd felt geographically it would not have been the best career move. That said, Kidd is now working for Manchester City as Technical Development Manager for the club’s academy.
Thus, Hart entered the new 09/10 season without an assistant manager, with only backroom support from Ian Woan, Guy Whittingham and Paul Groves.
Critics of Hart have often suggested that much of his success was due to Kidd’s influence. He attempted to hire a new assistant manager only recently, in the shape of former Leeds manager, Gary McAlister. However, in initial meetings, they failed to agree ‘on anything’.
McAlister was said to be after a long contract than the one he was given.
Hart showed an assistant manager was not needed when Pompey gained their first three points of the season against Wolves. The obvious signs of emotion that followed the final whistle clearly showed the unity in the Pompey camp.
Despite this refreshing change, once Ali Al Faraj’s takeover was completely in quick hast, a day later it was announced Avram Grant would return to the club as ‘Director of Football’, a role he held previously under Harry Redknapp’s reign.
While CEO Peter Storrie announced Grant would keep his distance, Grant revealed himself that he would be acting on the touchline alongside Hart.
Recently I made the prediction that Grant would eventually become Pompey manager. I stick by this prediction and I feel that it will take place sooner rather than later.
If not the case, and the two men work well together, I can only hope for the best that they become a good partnership and the points start to tally up.
Nevertheless, football is a results’ business nowadays, a business needed to make money to keep some clubs surviving, one not time for attractive football and overhyped misfortune.
Someone will have to bear the brunt soon enough…
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