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PORTSMOUTH 4 - SAINTS 1
BELIEF IS such a precious thing in football - whether you are chasing titles or trying to avoid the drop. Saints don't seem to have any right now.
I certainly refuse to buy into the theory that the Saints players don't care or they don't try.
They do, but their shattered confidence and almost non-existent belief is dragging them down and threatening to provide Championship football next season.
When you watch Saints play, you see a group of players without confidence or conviction.
Several of them look like they would just like to be mathematically down or mathematically up - anything to end this torrid campaign.
It has been torrid throughout, that's the best way to describe it.
And it's taken it's toll on quite a few who look like shadows of the players they once were.
Quite how Harry Redknapp is going to prevent this team getting relegated is difficult to see right now.
There are three matches left and it's hard to imagine anything less than three wins doing the job.
But to buck the pattern of an entire season right at the end is not easy.
Saints have only won five league games all campaign, so to suddenly imagine they can put together three back-to-back victories is hard to see.
The most important thing is that they believe they can do it. But there's not much evidence of it.
It's been said before and it's worth repeating - this stage of the season is not about having the best players.
It's about having the most determined and the best mental conditioning to stay up.
West Brom, Norwich and Crystal Palace at least have some sort of mental strength.
They have the mindset that they are battling to stay up and to scrap for everything.
Saints yesterday looked like a team who were resigned to their fate. At the moment, they're hardly going down with a whimper, let alone a fight.
If there's one man who can lift them then it's Harry Redknapp, but just how they can be picked up again and again is hard to see.
Just looking at the logic of this result it means their fate is not now in their hands.
Saints could conceivably win all three of their remaining matches and still go down.
But they're going to need to do that to at least give themselves a chance.
The passion of Redknapp's return to Fratton Park was hardly hate filled like many predicted. It was more Portsmouth fans gloating that they felt they'd relegated Saints.
For their part Saints were dreadful. Claus Lundekvam and Andreas Jakobsson had a shocker at the back and Pompey ran riot in the first half.
The midfield hardly got into the game, the strikers had no service and even Antti Niemi made mistakes.
Saints got off to the worst possible start when Lomana Lua Lua was more alert than Lundekvam and sprinted into the area where he was brought down by Niemi.
Yakubu made sure it was 1-0 to Pompey after four minutes from the penalty spot.
Lundekvam failed to pick up Arjan De Zeeuw from a Patrik Berger free kick on 16 minutes and it was 2-0.
But, with Saints rocking, Henri Camara handed them a lifeline with a goal out of nothing on 20 minutes.
However, that hope faded two minutes later when Niemi came charging out for a long ball, couldn't clear and Lua Lua impressively hooked into the net from distance.
Just five minutes later Pompey got another when Lua Lua fired in off the post with a brilliant shot from outside the area.
It could have been more and probably would have been had Lua Lua not been taken off injured just after scoring.
In the second half Pompey were content to play keep ball while Saints were even more depressing, unable to make any inroads, apart from a Nigel Quashie shot turned wide by Jamie Ashdown.
For the fans who had to stand and take the abuse and taunts from Pompey fans this hurt.
For the fans who have to go to work this week and take the abuse and taunts from Pompey fans this hurts.
Their belief is shattered now too.
Somehow Redknapp and his players have to get theirs back - and make everybody believe again before it's too late.