Saunders hoping to profit from United’s troubles

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DEAN Saunders insists that Portsmouth’s financial plight is no cause for celebration at Doncaster Rovers.

Football League rules saw Pompey docked 10 points last night for entering administration and plunged into the Championship relegation battle.

Former Leeds chairman and Sheffield United chief executive Trevor Birch, of accountants and business advisors PKF, has been appointed administrator.

Rovers are bottom, still seven points adrift of safety with 17 games to play.

“Portsmouth having financial trouble is not something I want to rely on,” said Saunders. “The last thing you want to see is us looking at the small picture.

“You have to look at the big picture,” he added. “If Portsmouth were to go under, it’s not good for British football.”

Saunders hopes to take advantage of the current managerial uncertainty at Leeds United when Rovers visit Elland Road.

Former Rovers midfielder Neil Redfearn, who played alongside Saunders at Bradford City, is in caretaker charge at Leeds after the sacking of Simon Grayson.

“Leeds is a great club with great support but you never know as they’re in-between managers,” he said. “No matter what league you’re in, Leeds away from home is as tough as it comes but it’s something that we’ve got to look forward to really.

“It’s a local derby and no one is going to give us a chance. If we turn up and play the way we can then we’re going to give anyone a game.”

Saunders believes Rovers will need eight wins to survive this season but insists the task is no harder than at his previous club Wrexham in the Blue Square Premier League.

“As a manager, I don’t think I could have had a harder job than at Wrexham,” he added.

“This is a tough job – I knew that when I took it – but Wrexham had no money and should be looking to be in the Championship really.

“When you’re trying to put a side together and a lot of changes have been forced on you, through injury or players going back to parent clubs, it’s hard because you’re trying to nail everything down to perfection within the organisation side of things. I’ve got to just keep this group together, keep us in good spirits, and make sure we rebound from bad results.”

Rovers, who were four points adrift of safety when Saunders replaced Sean O’Driscoll as manager in September, have been relying on short-term signings including El Hadji Diouf, Habib Beye and Pascal Chimbonda to inspire a surge up the table.

Former Liverpool striker Diouf was accused of spitting by Blackpool striker Gary Taylor-Fletcher in midweek but Saunders insists the allegations were false.

“He never did that. I have watched the DVD and asked Diouf if he spat at anyone,” said Saunders. “He has sworn to me that he didn’t – unfortunately his reputation is sometimes used against him. The last people who accused him of that got sued and lost.”

Saunders, meanwhile, is refusing to lose heart in the battle for survival, saying: “We’re in a tough situation but no worse than the sides around us. We’ve proved we can do it, we can beat teams at the top, we’ve just got to put a string of results together and it’s only a matter of time.”