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Paul Hart avoids Portsmouth axe, for now

Paul Hart has avoided the sack - at least for now - because of the way the players backed him with a gutsy and determined performance in Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Everton.

• Portsmouth 0-1 Everton
• Storrie: I won't quit Pompey

Informed sources within Fratton Park have told ESPN Soccernet that Hart has dodged the axe and that the way the players performed has bought him more time to turn the club's fortunes around.

Pompey might have lost a straight seven at the start of the season, but new owner Sulaiman Al Fahim has been persuaded not to pull the trigger because of the fact that the team performed so well and were unlucky to lose at home to Everton.

Hart will keep his job for the next match at Wolves, and much will again depend on the attitude of the players to their besieged manager. Hart might be given more time than expected because of the circumstances at the club; with so many players going, so little money spent on replacements and no new players available until January.

Al Fahim was at the match at Fratton Park and has been persuaded by chief executive Peter Storrie to give Hart a little more time to try to turn it around. And, I can also reveal that Storrie has performed a U-turn and decided to shelve any thoughts of walking out after the owner pledged to find £50 million for immediate payments to clubs on transfer fees, and to buy players in the January window.

Fan power helped Storrie to opt to stay, again for the time being, after the fans chanted his name at Fratton Park - a rare occurrence for a chief executive.

A source close to the club told ESPN Soccernet: "The fact that the fans chanted his name helped convince Peter to stay. It is difficult to walk away from that. Most important, though, was the promise of the £50 million funds being put in place. Al Fahim told the fans the money is coming and the supporters are sceptical, but we shall see.

"We are all waiting to see if that money does materialise, and it might be a different matter if it doesn't. As for the manager, there is a huge amount of affection for Paul Hart and admiration at the way he is handling such a difficult situation. After the way the players performed for him, there is no mood to replace him, but of course so much depends on results and the way the team continues to perform."

The problem, though, is that this sounds very much like a fragile truce, and that the futures of both the manager and chief executive are still very much on a knife edge.


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