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Oct 28, 2008

Adams must learn the lesson of Wycombe

There is a lengthy list of great players who have failed as managers. Tony Adams is currently on that list. He now has the chance to remove himself from it. "I already know I'm a good manager. Nothing can change that." Such were the ill-advised and badly founded words of Adams while in the opening months of what turned out to be a disastrous spell as boss of Wycombe Wanderers.

He has been handed the reins at Portsmouth, having had his standing as a coach revived by Harry Redknapp in June 2006 when the former England captain became de facto defensive coach and assistant manager after Kevin Bond left Fratton Park. Portsmouth have had one of the best defensive records out of the top four since Adams' arrival using the experience gained as on-field choreographer of the fabled Highbury back four/five of the 1990s.

Spells in the Dutch system at Feyenoord and FC Utrecht may have added further to Adams' coaching CV yet the mistakes surrounding that spell at Adams Park hang heavy over Adams' reputation. Accusations of haughtiness about the level of the players he was looking after can be borne out by statements like: "There's only so much any manager could do with this personnel."

So too the seeming intimation that one of his Chairboy charges could not gain knowledge of nutrition because he was a League One footballer, as opposed to the vast scientific knowledge basis that any of the intelligensia of the Premier League no doubt has.

"The other night, before the Colchester game, one of our players ate an apple. I let it go. If I started talking about the physiology of eating an apple, what it does to the digestive system just before you play football, I'd be confusing the hell out of them. They just can't take a huge amount of information on board."

Those words came from a interview carried out with the Guardian in December 2007 that yielded wholesale lampooning across the British media. Adams' superciliousness and pompousness also revealed some element of naivety. This has also been borne out by some of Adams' media appearances where his faltering tones do not lend themselves to being an authority on the game. This and some curious tales of him reading Shakespeare's Henry V in the dressing room to his England team-mates give rise to an image of a man who may be attempting to punch above his intellectual weight.

Adams, after his alcohol-destroyed 20s, has sought to re-educate himself, which should be praised. However, he still has to prove he has gained the humility to match his greater knowledge. Comparisons with Glenn Hoddle, another great player whose lack of 'people power' can be said to have wrecked his managerial career, can be drawn.

The best defender of his generation, captain of Arsenal at just 20, capable of the type of chest-beating leadership that John Terry can only dream of, Adams seems to have held something of himself back in his post-playing career. Players often need to be inspired and man-managed and Pompey fans must hope that Redknapp's strengths in this area have rubbed off on the man he groomed to be his eventual successor.

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