Friday, April 03, 2020
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Perhaps it’s too early to judge, but there has been a general trend of failure in Tony Adams’s managerial career so far. During his 12-month tenure at Wycombe Wanderers the team was relegated and he left them floundering in the lowest rung of professional football. The former Arsenal captain’s win percentage there? 22%. So far at Portsmouth things have been little better with only three wins in 12 games under his stewardship. 


Contrast this to the wide held belief during his playing days that Adams would become a top manager. At Arsenal it was not only his leadership qualities that were revered.  Adams was also seen as an on-pitch coach whose input into the positional sense and tactical nous of his team-mates was not to be underestimated. This saw him become the Gunners’ captain at the age of 21 and go on to lead them to four domestic league championships, three FA Cups and a Cup Winners Cup. Surely this was the making of a fine manager. 


Alas, it seems destined not to be. As time has gone on Adams has evolved into somewhat of a self-styled thinker. A kind of footballing philosopher for whom a calm exterior masks the internal debate that rages within. Such introspection is a trait of many who have overcome addiction, as Adams did. In order to find the root of the problem former addicts dig deep inside of themselves in search of the root of their problems.  


Adams seems to have brought that to all other parts of his life and perhaps it is a contributing factor to his managerial woes. In a game where a fine balance needs to be struck between tactical insight and discipline, and nursing players’ confidence to get the best out of them, Adams’s introspection is likely to be a burden upon his players. 


Contrast Adams’ approach to that of his predecessor at Fratton Park, ‘Arry Redknapp. The chirpy cockney is famed for getting the best out of players by telling them how good they are and giving them the confidence to go out and express themselves. Last year was Portsmouth’s most successful season in living memory and was the cumulitiative result of ‘Arry’s ego nursing and Adams’s work on the training field. This combined to see the club finish 8th in the Premier League and lift the FA Cup.  


Adams has been on rocky ground ever since taking the Portsmouth job. In many ways he’s taken a poinsoned chalice in as much as the club is financially crippled and up for sale, players have to be sold and it would be impossible to better last season’s feats. However, when it does come to pass that there’s no room in the manger for the donkey, and another media furor comes to pass over the sacking of another ‘young British Manager,’ we’d all do well to remember that statistically Adams is more pony than ass.  

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