Only days after Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp distanced himself from Portsmouth's Peter Crouch, saying the England striker was "too expensive," the 28-year old forward's £10 million (Dh60.4m) return to North London has been sealed. The sale has left the south coast club's fans - already ruing Crouch's international colleague Glen Johnson's £17 million summer switch to Liverpool - reeling.
Johnson's exit was driven as much by the player's undoubted top four quality as by Portsmouth's need to ward off debt collectors, but Crouch's sale comes barely a week after Sulaiman al Fahim's much-publicised takeover of the club raised the Fratton Park faithful's expectations. Al Fahim was originally, after all, the public face of Sheikh Mansour's Manchester City takeover. In light of Portsmouth's acquisition by the UAE businessman, City's close-season transfer market activity had Pompey supporters drooling with anticipation of their own raft of world-class arrivals. They certainly didn't expect to see their best players sold.
Portsmouth have moved swiftly to halt fans' criticism, stating Crouch's sale was "necessitated by the club's commitment to repay scheduled debts while we are in the transitional period of completing the takeover." Therein lies the dilemma. The Crouch sale was sanctioned because a substantial proportion of the Johnson fee will never be received by Portsmouth. With outstanding payments due from their own signing of Crouch from Liverpool, Johnson's sale generated some much-needed cash, but not enough.
Indeed, just how close Portsmouth came to administration prior to al Fahim's arrival is illustrated by Crouch's sale - reportedly for £2-3 million less than the fee agreed with Sunderland 10 days ago. However, Portsmouth's loss is Tottenham's gain, and with next summer's World Cup on the horizon, Crouch - at the club where he began his career as a trainee - will be eager to impress Redknapp and England manager Fabio Capello in the coming months.
"He is different to almost anyone else in the league in terms of his size and the way he plays the game - I am pleased to have him," said Redknapp. "With him, Robbie [Keane] Jermain Defoe and [Roman] Pavlyuchenko we have a good strike-force," he added. Despite losing Crouch the Portsmouth manager Paul Hart revealed his intention of keeping centre-back Sylvain Distin at the club. "He's one of our big players, so I'm expecting him to stay," he said.
Meanwhile, John Terry's refusal to break Chelsea ranks and join free-spending Manchester City, has opened the door for City to pursue other defensive targets. A deal for Arsenal centre-half Kolo Toure appeared a step closer yesterday, wity City confident of finalising the move within 48 hours. The Ivory Coast international was due in Manchester last night for a medical and contract talks. Finally, the Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho has revealed he would like to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
Ferguson, 67, has been at Old Trafford for 23 years, but is expected to finally step down if the Red Devils secure a record 19th English league title, or another Champions League crown. "I would consider going to Manchester United, but United have to consider if they want me to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson," Mourinho said. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org