Portsmouth 0-1 Manchester City

Emmanuel Adebayor's third goal of the season was enough to send Portsmouth to defeat in their first game under new ownership

Sulaiman al-Fahim celebrated his takeover of Portsmouth by sporting a replica team shirt and baseball cap and watching the second half of this match from the Fratton Park stands alongside the club's supporters. It set the seal upon a charm offensive from the Dubai-based property developer, that had earlier seen him embrace fans in the disabled section of the stadium, but Portsmouth need so much more than PR fluff.

They finished with a flourish here and the substitute David Nugent will have nightmares at how he failed to beat the Manchester City goalkeeper Shay Given from close range, after he had taken a fine first touch with his chest. The less said about his second, the better.

City, who maintained their perfect start to the new season without hitting their stride, would have been left with egg all over their faces if Nugent had not directed his shot down into the ground and straight at Given. Once again, City stood accused of lacking the ruthless edge to make a game safe. For Portsmouth, however, the brutal truth is that after four defeats in four games they have made their worst start to a league campaign for 56 years. And with further boardroom upheaval and player sales in prospect, the future looks bleak.

The day had started with the chief executive, Peter Storrie, accusing the outgoing owner Sacha Gaydamak of "the ultimate betrayal" for his decision to sell to Fahim rather than the rival consortium that he had fronted. Storrie claimed that the wealth and good intentions of his backer, the Saudi businessman Ali al-Faraj, would have secured the "long-term financial well-being of the club". He also said that Gaydamak would rather have put the club into administration than sell to him and Faraj. Gaydamak declined to comment.

What future now at the club for Storrie? There was also uncertainty regarding the playing staff with Tottenham Hotspur preparing an offer of £5m for the midfielder Niko Kranjcar and Paul Hart, the Portsmouth manager, being unable to give any assurances that David James would remain at the club after the transfer deadline. The goalkeeper did not play here, because of bone-bruising to his knee, but Hart suggested that he could be fit for England's friendly against Slovenia at Wembley on Saturday.

Would he remain a Portsmouth player on Wednesday? "I don't know," said Hart. "There are two days to the deadline and I don't think anybody in the Premier League would be confident about any player not leaving. At the moment, David's injured so you would think that it would be slightly limited anyway."

Hart has been given the green light to add much-needed depth to his squad and two of his new signings, Tommy Smith and Michael Brown, made their debuts here. Aruna Dindane, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Jamie O'Hara have also joined, although too late last week to be cleared to play in this match, and Hart hopes to make further additions. But the impression given, after Fahim took months longer than expected to finalise his takeover, is of a frantic Supermarket Sweep. Can Hart piece together a team on the hoof that is capable of survival?

"We're building now whereas most clubs have built three months ago," he said. "It's more difficult and of course, in May, there was a different budget, not a huge budget, but it was different to what it became because it [the takeover] has taken so long.

"The last three months have been almost as though the club has been in limbo, so to get an end to that would be a bonus for everybody and hopefully we can begin to move forward now."

City felt their way slowly into the game, but once the impressive Emmanuel Adebayor had put them in front, having lost his marker, Aaron Mokoena, to head home Gareth Barry's corner, they looked set to coast.

 by Guardian Chalkboards

Micah Richards, who would limp off with a knee injury, had the ball in the net just before half-time only for a linesman's flag for offside against Barry to cut short his celebrations. It was hugely debatable as to whether Barry, at the far post, was interfering with play.

Portsmouth showed character to rally late on. The substitute John Utaka fizzed a drive just wide of the far post and the midfielder Richard Hughes blazed high when well placed before Nugent suffered his horror moment.

There was even time left for Utaka to misdirect a header from only eight yards out. The Premier League, however, has no time for hard-luck stories. Portsmouth need to fashion a change in theirs, and quickly.


David Hytner at Fratton Park

The GuardianTramp

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