On this day: War of words as Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric hits back at Charlie Nicholas' Blues criticism

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On this day in 2005, a war of words broke out between Pompey chairman Milan Mandaric and Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas.

The former Arsenal and Scotland forward put the boot into the then Premiership Blues by claiming they’ve been in a mess since Harry Redknapp left. 

And that prompted Mandaric to respond, saying: 'He (Nicholas) should be embarrassed by what he's said'.

Looking back on the incident in full, Nicholas said the Blues had ‘serious problems’ and it was only a matter of time before Alain Perrin would be axed as manager.

Nicholas said: ‘I do think, looking in from the outside, there are serious problems down at Fratton Park. 

'And the first man in the firing line will be Alain Perrin. 

Charlie Nicholas, left, and Milan Mandaric

Charlie Nicholas, left, and Milan Mandaric

'I see Velimir Zajec has got out of it – and what a wonderful bit of business his appointment proved to be – and Perrin will be next if there is not a dramatic improvement.’ 

Nicholas said Perrin was surviving on a game-by-game basis and added: ‘The moment the fans turn on him is the moment Mandaric says thank you very much and starts looking for another boss.

‘Ever since Harry Redknapp left, Portsmouth have, from the outside at least, been in a mess.’ 

He cited the experienced players the club let go in the summer and said they had not replaced them with enough quality. 

‘Gregory Vignal is a worker and will give his all, but the likes of Dario Silva, Giannis Skopelitis and Kostas Chalkias have just not been good enough,’ Nicholas added. 

‘Their only real hope seems to be Lomana Lualua and, to be fair, he has been playing well this season. 

‘But it is an indictment of the trouble Pompey are in when their best player is doing well, but they are still losing games.’ 

Those comments left Mandaric seething, with the chairman angry for months at the way sections of the national media had portrayed the Blues since Redknapp left 11 months previous. 

Sky pundits and a number of national newspapers had come under fire from the club and many fans for being negative about Pompey – even when they have played well. 

Mandaric said Nicholas’s attack was just the latest attempt to undermine what he was trying to build at the club.

‘I think he should be embarrassed that he has come out with this,’ said Mandaric.

‘He hasn’t done his homework. He is out of order and is misleading the public. 

‘He says we’re in a mess, but the only mess we had was under previous management. 

‘Charlie Nicholas doesn’t understand what’s happening at Pompey. 

'Did he see how well we played against Newcastle? I doubt it very much.

‘Why doesn’t he also say that the statistics show we are number one in the Premiership for creating chances? 

‘If we didn’t have quality on the field, I wouldn’t mind this sort of criticism, but we have.

‘Alain Perrin is a great manager, a great tactician and a great coach. He doesn’t deserve people to be talking like this about his team.’ 

At the time Pompey sat 14th in the Premiership following a goalless draw against Newcastle at Fratton Park.