Blades warn Pompey off Warnock

PORTSMOUTH chairman Milan Mandaric’s chances of bringing in Neil Warnock as manager have been hit after Sheffield United signalled their intentions to keep him at Bramall Lane.

But that did not stop the Fratton Park chief doing an about-turn and announcing the sacking of Alain Perrin after just eight months at Fratton Park.

Coach Joe Jordan will now take over in a caretaker-manager capacity for Saturday night’s home clash with champions and Premiership leaders Chelsea.

That comes just 24 hours after Mandaric said Frenchman Perrin, who was odds-on at the bookmakers to be first Premiership boss sacked this season, would still be in charge despite his miserable run of just four wins in 21 matches.

Kevin McCabe, chairman of Sheffield United’s plc, has promised Warnock a new, improved contract if the Blades - who slipped to second place in the Coca-Cola Championship with a agoalless draw at Wolves on Tuesday - reach the Premiership.

He even added Warnock’s current deal, which expires at the end of the season, would be extended if United stayed in the same division - and blasted Mandaric for “casting improper designs” on him.

Mandaric could not have been more emphatic with his public praise, via the press, for the abrasive methods of Warnock, calling him “a street-fighter, not a professor” at the same time as apparently expressing his support of Perrin.

McCabe said: “What I have read is improper. It can cause unrest and I don’t like it. Should we make the Premiership we’ll be talking about a new contract (for Warnock) rather than extending the old one.

“If we’re in the Championship we’ll probably extend it for a year.”

Mandaric, who would undoubtedly offer Warnock more than his reported £400,000-a-year salary to move to Fratton Park, now faces a difficult task in attracting a top name.

Perrin was installed in April and is the seventh manager that the Serb-American businessman Mandaric has seen leave since taking over at Portsmouth in 1999.

Perrin’s departure is the latest incident in a turbulent period for the club which began last season when Harry Redknapp left Fratton Park shortly after the arrival of director of football Velimir Zajec, who left the club last month to return to Greece to take up a similar post with Panathinaikos.

David Pleat, the former Tottenham, Luton, Leicester and Sheffield Wednesday manager, was handed a temporary role of consultant at Portsmouth for the seven remaining matches of last season to assist Perrin.

The Frenchman won two of those games against Charlton and Southampton to clinch Premiership survival but, since then, has produced only two victories - both away from home - and the shame of a Carling Cup defeat against Coca-Cola League Two strugglers Gillingham.

With Warnock now finally given some reassurance about his future at Sheffield United, it looks as though Pompey must look elsewhere.

Former Ipswich and Derby manager George Burley, ex-Manchester United captain Roy Keane and Crystal Palace boss Iain Dowie have all been linked with the Pompey post, and a return for Redknapp cannot be totally ruled out after he recently made his peace with Mandaric.

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