Poor Tony Adams, he can’t even win the headlines on the day he loses his job. Why have Portsmouth taken the decision to sack Tony Adams after the Liverpool game? It is an ludicrous decision to sack a manager after losing to Liverpool at home and especially a week after the transfer window closed for the remainder of the season. I could have understood the decision 10 days ago, but what changed in that period. As poorly as Liverpool are currently playing, a win would have been a massive coup for Adams and his beleaguered team but to be sacked after losing to the team currently sitting in second in the table makes no sense. It’s pointless and makes you wonder how long this decision had been brewing, though I thought this time last week that Tony Adams was a dead man walking. The comments coming out of the club were the sort that for anyone who’s followed football for a while that the warning signs were clear to all that could read them. The dreaded vote of confidence had been issued, the experienced player had made comments on the fact he thought they were going down. Adams stoically stated that he had the full support of Portsmouth’s board and fans.
Why didn’t they sack him after the F.A. Cup defeat at home to Swansea or the 4-1 home defeat to West Ham? Then I could have understood it more, but 3 of their last 5 defeats in the League have come against Liverpool, Aston Villa and Arsenal. What did the board expect him to do in those games against top quality opposition, they also garnered a point at Tottenham despite being on the back foot for most of the game. What would have most clubs taken from those 4 matches outside the top 6?
There’s no doubting Adams’ reputation as one of the nicest men in football. A renaissance man in every sense, after much publicised battles with alcoholism, Adams threw himself into education, becoming a varocious reader of classics and under Wenger, had an indian summer as a player finding a new panache and ability in a side of sensuous footballing talent. He’s work in setting up the Sporting Chance Clinic in Hampshire needs no introduction or defence and he has worked tirelessly to assist countless sports men & women to try and beat their demons. Yet, I don’t think he’s ready to be a manager yet, he’s still a little rough around the edges and needs to hone his abilities more. Great players do not make great managers but time and again English clubs do not learn. Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Alan Ball and Bobby Charlton all showed that an illustrious playing career does not guarantee you’re able to step up to become a good manager.
The only defence I can find for the Portsmouth board is that perhaps they liked Tony too much to sack him sooner but even so, they should have acted sooner or let him run until the team end of the season. It was clear to me that Pompey were in free fall but Adams had taken steps to steel up his team with the signings of Hayden Mullins, Angelos Bassinas, Jermaine Pennant and Theofanis Gekas and to be removed after only one game with the new signings is daft. That smacks of boardroom panic and the typical decisions of people who know nothing of football. To sack him after the run of games they’ve had would see 16 managers a year lose their jobs in the Premiership.
Their next fixture is a winnable one against Manchester City, who are dreadful away from home and would have given the club and Adams clarification on how poor they actually were. Yet the situation in the Premiership, with everyone outside the top 7 within 11 points of each other should have allowed Adams more time than he actually had. No-one is cut adrift yet by a long way and that could have been crucial but ultimately, it’s looks like an act to preserve Portsmouth’s sell on price, the Chairman Alexandre Gayamak is looking at recouping the £60 million he’s poured in to Pompey, they need a new ground and the team needs strengthening too. That’s easier to do as a Premiership club and now they need to find a replacement. Avram Grant anyone? The board in their statement today claim to have given Adams their full backing financially. I hardly see giving a manager a sixth of the transfer funds raised in January as fully backing him financially. If only he worked for Steve Gibson, he’d still have a job.
So where does Adams go now? Perhaps Tony needs a break from football and throw himself into charity work, giving him time to recharge his batteries. He’ll be gutted that he feels he let Portsmouth and their fans down, if nothing else Adams is a proud man and one who never shirks from a challenge. After the failure at Wycombe prior to his moving into Assistant Management, could he step back on the second or third rung of the management ladder and find time to get a club that will allow him the time to hone his managerial skills. If nothing else, I wish Tony Adams the best of luck whatever he decides to do.