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Can Adams prove Pompey wrong?

By Simon Austin

Tony Adams
Adams admitted "I don't actually like people" in an interview in November

Tony Adams seemed to be treading a fine line between self-belief and delusion in the aftermath of his sacking by Portsmouth on Monday.

"I am a little bit surprised... I haven't had a lot of time here and certainly haven't had the financial backing," he told BBC Radio Solent.

Referring to his other ill-fated stint as a manager, at Wycombe, he added: "I've possibly made two bad decisions already in management."

The impression conveyed was that poor results had been down to the club and not the manager.

Adams was admittedly forced to sell two of Pompey's best players, Jermain Defoe and Lassana Diarra, in the January transfer window and given only a fraction of the proceeds to spend on new players.

But he was still able to field a team including the likes of David James, Sylvain Distin, Sol Campbell and Glen Johnson, the mainstays of the side that had won the FA Cup the previous season.

His results at Fratton Park were even poorer than those of the much-maligned Alain Perrin, who had an ill-fated spell at the club in 2005, though.

Adams' Premier League record reads two wins in 16 matches, two points from the last 27 available and no victories since 30 November.

4 November 2003: Appointed manager of Wycombe
May 2004: Club finishes bottom of League One and relegated
9 November 2004: Resigns, citing personal reasons
July 2005: Becomes youth coach with Feyenoord
January 2006: Named trainee first-team coach with Utrecht
28 June 2006: Appointed assistant manager at Portsmouth
28 October 2008: Named Portsmouth manager
9 February 2009: Sacked after two league wins in 16 games

Portsmouth were seventh in the league and still in the Uefa Cup when Harry Redknapp left for Spurs on 26 October. Fifteen weeks later, they are 16th, a point above relegation, and have crashed out of both the FA and Uefa Cups.

When you combine this with his Wycombe record of 12 wins in 53 games and relegation from League One in 2004, it raises serious questions about Adams' suitability to manage.

There have been suggestions that players find it difficult to relate to him and an interview Adams gave to the Daily Mail last November hardly hinted at someone who relishes man-management.

"I don't actually like people," the former England captain admitted. "I'm a loner and if I had my way I'd just walk my dogs every day, never talk to anyone and then die."

The contrast with the gregarious, charismatic Redknapp could hardly have been greater.

Adams' unshakeable self-belief and single-mindedness helped him achieve much to be admired as both a footballer and man.

He transformed himself from the "donkey" of George Graham's Arsenal side into a cultured and revered centre-half under Arsene Wenger and overcame alcoholism before setting up the Sporting Chance Clinic for sportsmen with addictions.

But at times during his managerial career he has given the impression that it is his own personal journey rather than the team that matters.

Matt Bloomfield
Tony's man-management was brilliant and I really enjoyed working with him

Matt Bloomfield

At the end of December, with Portsmouth mired in trouble at the foot of the Premier League, he told the Sunday Times: "Arsene (Wenger) is showing no signs of moving at the moment, but it is my ambition to manage Arsenal Football Club."

It brought to mind an interview Adams had given to this website in October 2004, when he said: "I don't know who is in Sweden's under-18 side, the Bundesliga second division or in Malta.

"If I'm going to do my job properly long-term then I need to know who's out there. To gather that knowledge I could travel - go and see how it's done in the French academy, tap Gerard Houllier or go and see Marcello Lippi.

"After that, if I get an opportunity in the Premiership I would be ready."

BBC Sport's Simon Austin

At the time, Wycombe were struggling in League Two having been relegated the previous season.

In fairness to Adams, no Portsmouth players have publicly criticised him, while Crouch, Distin and David Nugent all publicly backed the 42-year-old.

And Wycombe midfielder Matt Bloomfield, who was signed by Adams in December 2003 and played under him up until his departure in November 2004, says he has "only good things" to say about his former manager.

"Tony's man-management was brilliant and I really enjoyed working with him," Bloomfield told BBC Sport. "He had won virtually everything in the game as a player, and was a hero of mine, so I listened to everything he said.

"He was very calm and had clearly learnt a lot from Arsene Wenger, but if he did need to have a go, he would. He related to the lads very well and we were very disappointed when he left."

Adams showed he had a good eye for a player during his year at Wycombe, bringing in Mike Williamson, who has just moved to the Championship with Watford, and Nathan Tyson, who went on to Nottingham Forest.

The Tony I know is relaxed, articulate, intelligent and funny - certainly not the caricature I sometimes read about in the newspapers

Peter Kay
Chief executive, Sporting Chance Clinic

And while some players like Distin underperformed when he was at Portsmouth, others such as Nugent thrived. The players described him as a good technical coach and he excelled as Redknapp's assistant before making the step up to become number one.

His close friend Peter Kay, with whom he set up the Sporting Chance Clinic, is sure he has a bright future in management.

"Players I have spoken to who know Tony are inspired and motivated by him," he told BBC Sport. "He has so much to offer as a manager - he is a deep thinker about the game, a very good coach and people respond to him.

"The man I know is relaxed, articulate, intelligent and funny - certainly not the caricature I sometimes read about in the newspapers. He is keen to get back into management and I'm sure he will and will be a success. But if he does nothing else, he has saved lives through his work with Sporting Chance, and that is an incredible thing to say."

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see also
Portsmouth confirm Adams sacking
09 Feb 09 |  Portsmouth
Adams 'surprised' at Pompey axe
09 Feb 09 |  Portsmouth
Alan Hansen's column
09 Feb 09 |  Football
Adams would consider Euro switch
15 Oct 04 |  Wycombe
Adams ponders job in Italy
25 May 05 |  Europe

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