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Alan Hansen's column

Alan Hansen
By Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

Portsmouth's decision to sack Tony Adams after only 16 Premier League games again underlines the pressures of modern management.

Tony Adams
I feel sorry for Tony - the margins in management are so fine

Alan Hansen

The rewards for success have never been greater - but the same applies to the penalties for failure and we have seen outstanding former players such as Roy Keane, Paul Ince and now Tony leave top-flight jobs this season.

I have had opportunities to go into management over the years, but I decided early on it was not for me. And this was in an era when managers got a bit of time at a club before the pressure really kicked in.

I was 6/4 favourite to succeed Kenny Dalglish when he resigned as Liverpool manager in 1991. I was never going to take the job and there were very good reasons why.

It didn't stop me going into the dressing room and telling the players that I would be taking over after Kenny's departure - and that things were going to change.

I told them certain pubs were totally out of bounds, there would be extra training every afternoon and we would be back every Sunday studying video tapes of matches.

I effectively presented my "former" team-mates with the three things I would have hated being told by my manager. The faces in front of me were an absolute picture until they were put out of their misery and realised I was not in fact taking over.

The job of Liverpool manager was not for me. I had been at the club 14 years and in my last season as a player I really started to feel the pressure.

Once you passed 30 as a player people looked for certain signs. If you had a couple of bad games there would be suggestions that your legs had gone.

There was also the expectations of the fans, the media, the neutrals and the anticipation of the Liverpool supporters, so used to success over the years.

I was worrying about games and I felt that if I was feeling the pressure as a player then it would be a million times worse as a manager.

To move from playing to management is a journey into the unknown, and the unknown can be a very scary place.

Kenny did it because he was very single-minded and ended up being very successful.

Also there are some people who are just totally focused on football. I was never like that.

I have had approaches to go into management but I have never been tempted. Francis Lee phoned me up when he was chairman of Manchester City, and QPR and Preston were others, but I never saw my career in management.

Harry Redknapp
It was going to be almost impossible to match Harry Redknapp's success

Alan Hansen
As a pundit I have never, ever called for a manager to be sacked and when people say it is easy for me to sit on a sofa and that I have never been a manager myself, it is an observation I certainly take on board.

I try to give a qualified opinion on what happens on the pitch and remember at all times the pressures placed on managers in the modern era.

There have been other changes. When I was linked with management, contracts were totally in favour of clubs rather than players - now the reverse is true.

You have to try to balance 20 egos. It is all unbelievably hard. You have to try to keep players on your side - staying strong while at the same time not upsetting players.

There was a time when clubs could walk all over players, and if you did not win titles or have some success you might not get your money. This was a massive incentive to do well.

I feel sorry for Tony - the margins at the highest level are so fine and things could have been so different for him.

I saw Pompey lose against Aston Villa recently and they should have got a point, while really they should have beaten Liverpool on Saturday.

If they had got four points from those games, Tony would have been looking forward optimistically instead of losing his job.

The two late goals they conceded against Liverpool were the goals that sealed his fate, and they came from bad defending.

Sol Campbell and Sylvain Distin were Pompey's best players last season, and if they had played like that against Liverpool they would have won, although I am not suggesting for one second they cost Tony his job.

I am simply stating that sometimes managers cannot legislate for players, even the most reliable and experienced ones, making mistakes.

He also took over at a difficult time. Harry Redknapp had won the FA Cup and done well in the Premier League.

It was always going to be hard for Portsmouth to repeat that, and of course from being a club willing to spend big to bring players in, Tony was faced with having to sell key men such as Lassana Diarra and Jermain Defoe.

It is a sad day for Tony, but he is a strong character and hopefully he will be back in football when he feels the time is right.

Alan Hansen was talking to BBC Sport's Phil McNulty

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see also
Portsmouth confirm Adams sacking
09 Feb 09 |  Portsmouth
Adams still has faith despite defeat
07 Feb 09 |  Match of the Day
Adams has been hamstrung - Dixon
08 Feb 09 |  Football
Portsmouth 2-3 Liverpool
07 Feb 09 |  Premier League


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