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Crossroads for Portsmouth as opportunity arises from Redknapp departure

 When Harry Redknapp walked out on Portsmouth for the second time at the end of October, the general consensus was that the immediate future looked bleak at Fratton Park.

Redknapp, with the help of Milan Mandaric and whichever Gaydamak is actually pulling the strings, dragged Portsmouth kicking and screaming into Premier League regular status. Having saved the club from relegation in some style in 2006, Redknapp steered them to UEFA Cup qualification last season by way of an FA Cup victory.

Assistant manager tony Adams was promoted as Harry Redknapp was jeered by fans who watched him receive the Freedom of Portsmouth. Given Adams’ unimpressive stint in charge of Wycombe Wanderers in 2003 and 2004, Pompey fans and pundits were understandably cautious in lauding the decision. For my part, I think Adams was a brave appointment by Portsmouth, and I can see the thought process behind it. Adams was an integral member of Redknapp’s staff, the success of which was unquestionable. On paper, the value of changing room continuity is immeasurable. Obviously football doesn’t necessarily work like that.

Does crisis breed opportunity? The Redknapp model – wheeling and dealing, hands-off management and rent-a-quotism – is far from perfect. In truth, an FA Cup win and a top six or eight finish in the Premier League is probably as far as it could take a club. There comes a point where a club on the up needs to change to take the next step.

Whether Adams is the man to push Pompey up to a UEFA Cup spot in the league remains to be seen, but he could well go some way to installing a new strategy at Fratton Park. Perhaps the club can really push on with a little more on-pitch stability, a steady team with a few good quality youngsters, and a more hands-on approach at the training ground.

It’s possible, of course, that it all goes wrong for Portsmouth. Despite being a top class player and clearly an excellent coach, Adams has nothing worthwhile on his managerial CV. He’s obviously a clever guy with superb knowledge of the game, but he’s unproven at best. Still, a gamble wouldn’t be a gamble if there were no chance of hitting the jackpot.

Much depends on the new manager’s ability to hold on to the diamonds in the rough of Redknapp’s transfer policy. With their previous boss still active in the Premier League and openly sniffing around – at a club as fast and loose with cash as Tottenham Hotspur – several Portsmouth stars are surely soon to be subject to transfer bids. Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Glen Johnson and Lassana Diarra are vital to Portsmouth’s short- to medium-term success.

The problem, as always these days in football, is the filthy lucre. Ownership controversy aside, it is becoming clearer by the day that Portsmouth Football Club is not exactly rolling around on a pile of notes. That possibly played a part in the relative smoothness of Redknapp’s move, and it will make it tough for Adams to retain his key players.

So what’s next for Portsmouth? Results are paramount, of course, but the first major obstacle is the January transfer window. Redknapp and others will be circling like vultures and Portsmouth need to be strong enough to fight them off.

If they manage that, Adams will get his chance to shine with some great players in his charge. If not, Portsmouth may well be looking nervously over their shoulders.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. AtlantaPompey

    November 5, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Let's see, where to begin…

    Tony Adams was appointed for the continuity. The lack of big name managers readily available who would be willing to work in the conditions Tony Adams will accept was another factor. Money is supposedly a factor.

    The team has said that nobody has to leave in the transfer window, but in order to buy, the team has to sell first. I think that's the case with most teams, including Spurs, according to Daniel Levy. Defoe can't return to Tottenham due to the 12 month rule. Players will come and go during the transfer window, but players will leave before others go in. I think this will be one of the quietest transfer periods in quite a while due to the world financial situation.

    If a team offers silly money for someone, then the team should sell. We will be out of the UEFA Cup by then, already out of the Carling Cup, with only the league and the FA Cup to defend. If someone offers silly money for Diarra, rumored to be ManU, then we will sell and reinvest in two or three younger players which will help the long term future of the club. Likely targets are Diarra, Krancjar, Defoe, Crouch, and James. For the right price, all of those players are for sale. I believe both Krancjar and James' contracts are up at the end of the season.

    The club is for sale. Reports keep surfacing of people showing interest and turning it down. A deal was just signed with WalMart for exclusive rights to the land that Fratton Park sits on. Numbers were not disclosed, but it is a good cash injection. The club is in final negotiations with several companies about retail space next to the new stadium project. The new training ground will be under construction in January, weather permitting of course.

    Peter Storrie claims that the players are enjoying training under Tony Adams. He has to say that, though. He would never admit otherwise.

    15 players are out of contract at the end of the season. Major changes would have happened even if 'Arry stayed.

    With only four points separating 7th and 19th place, this season could go either way. The next few weeks are very important. Establishing Tony Adams as manager. Establishing a winning system. Settling the supporters with some wins and good, believable, news about the training ground and the new stadium, and the finances, and potential new owners, is absolutely necessary. That's a lot to accomplish in such a short time

    It's a tough time to support Pompey right now. The one thing all of this has driven home to me is that players, managers, owners, chairmen, etc all come and go. The only people who are truly loyal to a club are the supporters. Anyone who collects a paycheck is there because they need a paycheck. In the real world where the rest of us live, that's true. It's true in football as well.


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