Tony Adams Will Not Win “Manager Of The Year”

14 By Ian  |   The Ball  |   January 14, 2009  |     10

Portsmouth’s 2-0 at Bristol City in the FA Cup papered over a couple more cracks in what is rapidly becoming a disastrous season for the Hampshire club. The Premier League table remains kind to them – they have won just once in the last two months in the Premier League, and some of those matches have been against eminently beatable opposition – and they seem to be perilously close to being in a position of financial meltdown, losing players left, right and centre. They lost Harry Redknapp earlier in the season (a subject we’ll return to later), though the jury is still out on whether this is necessarily a bad thing for them or not. Most troubling of all for them, however, is that they have an individual running the show who manages to combine, within his personality, none of the attributes that would expect a prospective employer would look for when looking to hire the manager of a football club, whilst displaying (and having displayed) several character traits that make one wonder aloud as to his suitability for the role. Be truthful now: how many of you expect Tony Adams to be successful as Portsmouth’s manager?

A quick review of their season so far doesn’t offer much by the way of consolation. One mught have expected them to challenge for a European place this season off the back of last year’s FA Cup win but, with a wage bill rumoured to be as much as 90% of their turn-over, this season has seen them having to make drastic cuts. Already in the January transfer window, they have lost Jermaine Defoe and Lassana Diarra. The club issued a press release at the end of the week, but the fact that there is a need for such a release to be issued in the first place could hardly be said to fill one with confidence. The issue of whether the departure sof Harry Redknapp is a bad thing for them remains unanswered. After a brief period during which the media lauded him as an utter, utter genius, Spurs’ form has collapsed again. They haven’t won in the Premier League since November and remain, with seventeen matches left to play, in the bottom three. Comparatively, Portsmouth are in a rosy position, in fourteenth place and with three points between them and the drop zone. If relegation from the Premier League is to be a lottery this season, Portsmouth have, in some respects, bought more tickets than some.

Is, however, Tony Adams the man to lead them through this potentially turbulent spell? Well, let’s look at the good things first. He was an outstanding servant for Arsenal, and although his occasional diversions into the world of intellectualism can occasionally appear clunking, the criticism of these that has been pretty overt on the television and in the newspapers has been, by and large, undeserved. Football, you’ll remember fears intellectualism in any guise, and will laugh at it wherever it can. However, these positives pale in comparison with the massive negative against him – complete lack of anything like a successful track record as a manager. His spell at Wycombe Wanderers between 2003 and 2004 was a complete disaster. They were relegated from League One under his tutelage and, by the time that he quit Adams Park in November 2004, they were in the lower reaches of League Two. He managed two weeks in Utrecht as a trainee coach before going to Portsmouth as Harry Redknapp’s assistant two years ago.

Ultimately, one suspects that the struggle is far from over this season for Portsmouth. Their win at Ashton Gate tonight notwithstanding, there has been little indication that their league position is going to improve, and with many of the teams in the bottom of the half all beating each other, the one thing that they all seem to have in common is that they are taking points from Portsmouth at the moment. Also, they couldn’t be struggling in a worse season than this one. Sponsorship and season ticket money is likely to be considerably lower this summer than in previous seasons, and getting straight back into the Premier League is nowhere near as easy as many people might think that it is. Take a look at poor, wretched Charlton Athletic at the foot of the Championship for confirmation of that. Getting relegated this season with the wage budget could leave them prone to an implosion so spectacularly carried out by Leeds United several years ago, but without the massive residual fan base to be able to support the sudden drop in revenue that falling out of the Premier League would bring. Not, it seems almost unnecessary to say, that Leeds could cope once they went down. Portsmouth seem to be in neither a psychologically nor financially healthy enough state to survive.



Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

  • January 14, 2009 at 12:42 am


    Yet another article taking a cheap shot at portsmouth, im getting sick of these derogatory pieces of journalism.

  • January 14, 2009 at 12:49 am


    everyone is entitle to an opinion, but this article is littered with infactural statments, it remind me of the tabloid press….

    not a pompey fan, but I hope they make you eat your words !

  • January 14, 2009 at 12:58 am


    If you actually had more credible evidence than hearsay with regard your comment “they seem to be perilously close to being in a position of financial meltdown” I may have bothered to finish reading the rest of this innacurate viewpoint.
    Tony has lost 2 of his best assests in Diarra and Defoe and the club have explained that we need to be self-sustaining and not in Sasha’s pocket so we can’t expect to re-invest £35 millon. However, there is money available and with talk of 5 possible signings in this transfer window, I think we need to give Tony a chance to stamp his name onto the team before declaring who will or wont “Win Manager Of The Year”. I believe there’s another half of the season to go yet…..

  • January 14, 2009 at 1:31 am


    Okay then. I’ll take your comments one at a time.

    1. Well, you’re entitled to your opinion, I guess. I don’t have any particular anti-Portsmouth agenda. If you think I’m taking a “cheap shot”, take a look at the current Premier League relegation odds:

    Portsmouth are the third favourites to go down, and bookmakers are more often right than wrong. I have no great opinion on whether I “want” Portsmouth to go down or not.

    2. Yes, “infactural”. Why would someone that isn’t a Portsmouth supporter be so concerned over the opinions of another neutral about a club that they don’t support?

    3. If we assume the club to be a company in the same way that other companies work (paying for the conventional earnings overheads as well as, effectively, the “manufacturing costs” – ie, the team that Portsmouth puts out every week is the “product” in the same way that, say, a toy factory makes toys), football is unusual, in that the wage bill pays the wages and the manufacturing costs. Even allowing for this, Portsmouth’s wage budget is hopelessly unsustainable – it’s simply not mere speculation to say that over 80% (quite possibly 90%) of their entire turnover is spent on wages, even taking into account the savings made through losing Defoe and Diarra.

    If you think that’s fine and dandy considering their form since Adams took charge and the possibility of their being relegated this summer, then I’m afraid we’re going to have to simply agree to differ. I think we’ll also have to agree to differ if you think that the best way to resolve their current problems is “5 possible signings in this transfer window”. Five new signings would more than wipe out any savings made over the last few weeks and would probably increase their debt still further.

    This is from The Times, in December:

    “Portsmouth have… debts estimated at £35 million, a wage bill that exceeds 90 percent of turnover and an antiquated stadium that holds fewer than 20,000 spectators”.

    It’s pretty difficult to gauge the exact extent of their finances, as their last set of published accounts (showing a £23m loss) were published in 2007. It’s almost impossible to see that amount being anything other then considerably worse this year. We’ll see in May, I guess.

    You’ll have to forgive me if I choose to disregard the fact that you consider my viewpoints to be “innacurate”.

  • January 14, 2009 at 9:11 am


    Pompey may be third favourites for relegation with the bookies but those odds give them about a one in 4 chance of being relegated so far from certainties – so in fact bookies say Pompey much more likely to stay up than go down. And bookies do get it wrong very often – they had Bristol City as favourites to win last night for example. And as for losing players left right and centre!! – that’s a ridiculous way of describing the departure of TWO players! What sort of crass journalism is that? ! Lets wait and see what the position is at the end of the transfer window.

    The fact is you have jumped on a media bandwagon that has put two and two together about Pompey’s finances and reached five. None of it has been substantiated by evidence. Just because it was in The Times doesn’t make it true. If you pulled together all the things The Times has said about Pomepy over the last 5 years you’d realize how low the standard of sports journalism at The Times is.

    And all you have done is regurgitated what others have said and written probably because you naively believe what you read in the papers. Your site may be called twohundredpercent -but about 0% of its content is original.

  • January 14, 2009 at 2:06 pm


    Rather than merely resorting to somewhat lame insults, I would prefer to keep the debate on here sensible. I guess the question for any Portsmouth supporters reading this is this: Do you believe what the chairman of your club says above and beyond what is now received wisdom about the financial condition of your club?

    Tom: Shall I quote The Guardian too? The Independent, perhaps? The Daily Mail? This question is, of course, irrelevant, since you seem to think that this is all some media conspiracy and that there is nothing for you to worry about, which does rather leave me wondering why you’re on here fretting about it as much as you are.

    Still, all the posters from Portsmouth have managed one thing. Their somewhat unpleasant attitudes have changed me from being someone with no opinion on their club to someone that doesn’t have much time for it any more. You should all be very proud.

  • January 14, 2009 at 6:33 pm


    Tony Adams is the new Bryan Robson.


  • January 16, 2009 at 8:12 pm


    Sorry for the lame insults but I think most of what I wrote above was ‘sensible’ and constructive and hopefully the below will be considered likewise – even if we disagree.

    Having said that the following, gleaned from your article and your responses, say everything anybody needs to know about your journalistic credentials:
    * you effectively admit to taking your lead from ‘received wisdom’ rather than basing your blog on facts or serious investigation. Received wisdom is not, by definition, the truth.
    * you, rather sweetly and naively, seem to think that British newspapers can be believed when they report on football matters – despite the fact that most of what you read in those papers is unattributed speculation and hearsay – a very high proportion of which doesn’t actually happen.
    * your views about a football club are changed as a result of reading a handful of fan responses to your article. If that’s the case then it is hardly surprising that your so easily influenced and guided by what you read in national newspapers.

    The facts are that :
    * Pompey have sold two players since the season started both at a massive profit – Diarra and Defoe – and signed Belhadj. Whilst a significant loss of talent it hardly constitutes ‘losing players left, right and centre’ – apart from to you. [Perhaps you could respond to this specific point]
    * In the close season they sold Muntari and Mendes, and bought Crouch and Kaboul. Again not exactly a massive outflow.
    * There is very little speculation about further players leaving – largely because the club has said none are for sale and players like Johnson, Crouch and Kranjcar have indicated their commitment to the club.
    * The club recently extended Glen Johnson’s lucrative contract, turned down an offer for him from Liverpool, agreed a fee with Liverpool for Pennant, and is officially quoted as pursuing three signings and two loan signings this window.

    Strange behaviour for a club up to its eyeballs in debt and on the verge of financial meltdown – but then again perhaps it isn’t. It could be prudent financial management in a difficult economic climate. But of course that isn’t the ‘received wisdom’ and therefore not something you would be able to consider.

  • January 18, 2009 at 7:21 pm


    Middlesbro are third favourites to get relegated now (pompey 6th) – ‘bookies are rarely wrong’ you tell us – so I suppose you’ll be penning a ‘Pompey are staying up’ article then? Or perhaps a ‘Tony Adams outwits Harry Redknapp’ one. Or do you only say ‘the bookies are rarely wrong’ when it suits your argument at the time?

  • January 21, 2009 at 5:49 pm


    Update on your wildly exaggerated (albeit received wisdom) comments that Pompey are ‘losing players left, right and centre’ and on the ‘verge of financial meltdown’

    To date:
    Two out (Defoe, Diarra) – no other first team players currently linked with moves away from Fratton Park
    Two in (Belhadj, Pennant on loan) – actively pursuing Juventus’ Christian Paulsen, and ‘several others’. Some media reports saying Adams now has transfer money burning holes in his pockets – although I wouldn’t (unlike you) read too much into such press reports. Also Glenn Johnson extended his contract.

    Further update next week……

  • January 24, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    john quinn

    Give Tony Adams a fair chance……..Nobody gives anyone a chance anymore …….Media are unbelieveable ……they want another lamb to be thrown to the wolves…..and are going after Adams.. Who are these people…why cant they be a bit more positive instead of looking for the negative all the time. Who queries them {the media}. i am not a portsmouth fan …but i do empathise with Adams …… The media need to look at themselves and realise that the public are well aware of their often wrongly slanted views of people like Adams….just give him a chance …is that too much to ask

  • January 26, 2009 at 12:36 pm


    I think all these comments have missed out on the vital point here: that Portsmouth F.C. are shit.

  • February 2, 2009 at 10:06 pm


    To quote your article

    ‘….. they seem to be perilously close to being in a position of financial meltdown, losing players left, right and centre.’

    So lets look at what happened:

    OUT went Diarra and Defoe for a combined fee of £35m. Pompey’s Diarra transfers must be some of the best business ever done by a Premiership club. Buy him for £5m, get man of the match performances in Cup Final and Semi-Final, win major trophy, sell for £20-25m. We were so lucky to have him for 11 months and then made an almighty profit. Diarra was and is a class act. He got the new club he deserved – Real Madrid. Defoe was allowed to leave after refusing to perform for several weeks. He sulked like a petulant child. Good player but no class at all. He got the new club he deserved – Tottenham.

    IN came five players. Pennant and Pele on loan. Basinas, Gekas and Mullins bought. Plus Belhadj’s loan turned into a buy. I’ve got mixed feelings about this group of signings and will have to reserve judgement for a few weeks. Adams’ future rests on how they perform.

    Perhaps the club’s (and Tony Adams’) major achievement though was to hold onto several excellent players, all of whom were linked to moves away. James, Distin, Davis, Crouch, Kranjcar and especially Johnson. They stayed despite media speculation that at least some of them would go and inexplicably the club on the verge of financial meltdown turned down substantial offers for, and gave improved contracts to, some of them! How dare they contradict you and your beloved received wisdom!

    Although the team’s performances have left much to be desired and Adams’ tenure hangs by a thread its actually been a much better transfer window than most pundits, including you, predicted. If the club is on the verge of financial meltdown it hasn’t really shown it. If players have been leaving left, right and centre they, the club and the media have been keeping very quiet about it. More accurate to say players have been arriving left, right and centre, but then again accuracy isn’t really what British football journalism is about.

  • April 28, 2009 at 10:26 pm


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