Emotional Grant vows to fight on with Portsmouth

SOUTHAMPTON - Avram Grant insists the emotional celebrations at the end of Portsmouth’s 4-1 win over local rivals Southampton in the FA Cup fifth round prove the beleaguered club is worth saving.

By (AFP)

Published: Sun 14 Feb 2010, 8:49 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:06 AM

Grant rarely lets his emotions show but the Israeli cut a delighted figure at full-time at St Mary’s on Saturday as Pompey finally savoured a rare happy moment in a dismal season.

Portsmouth are bottom of the Premier League and debts of 60 million pounds (69 million euros) have forced the Fratton Park outfit to the brink of bankruptcy.

They face a High Court hearing on March 1 that will decide their future, while Grant has had to deal with embarrassing newspaper stories about his private life.

So a victory over their old enemies from along the south coast was just the tonic everyone connected with Portsmouth needed.

After Portsmouth substitute Quincy Owusu-Abeyie’s second-half opener was cancelled out by Rickie Lambert, goals from Aruna Dindane, Nadir Belhadj and Jamie O’Hara sent the visitors into the last eight.

Former Chelsea boss Grant, who marched onto the pitch to share in the celebrations of the travelling Portsmouth fans, believes such days show there is every reason to keep the faith amid difficult times.

“I’m very emotional and this is an emotional game,” Grant said. “If you win, you make 250,000 other people happy, this is what football is about.

“I will fight until the last moment. As long as we have a chance on the pitch. What happens in court is out of my hands.

“If they need to punish someone then it is a person that does something wrong. I don’t know who that is but it is not us.

“I see the passion of everyone at the club — the fans, the players and the staff. There is a passion to succeed. I was very happy to see the decision from the High Court. There are many people around and it’s not their fault.

“If I wrote a book about Portsmouth it would be a best-seller. I had two choices. To give up or to show to the players that we will make our spirit even higher.

“I said that to the players and to my children, when there are difficult times you need to show your character.”

Grant played a key role in the win with his decision to send on Owusu-Abeyie, who is on loan from Spartak Moscow, as Portsmouth struggled to overcome their League One (third division) opponents.

“The only thing we could do is bring loan players in who were not under contract,” Grant said. “Quincy was one of them. I knew him from Arsenal and know that he has a lot of quality. I like to develop players and get the best from them and he will be very good if we get potential from him.”

Saints boss Alan Pardew was pleased with his side’s performance despite the eventual margin of defeat.

“We tried to play a controlled game and not to open it up,” he said.

“We did well with that. We were very disappointed not to be leading at half-time. (Portsmouth goalkeeper) David James was terrific, and it was evenly poised. Psychologically, scoring first would have been tough for Portsmouth.

“I think next time we play them we’ll be in a stronger position. We are a lot closer than the team that played because we had players unavailable.”

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