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Feb, 9, 2009

Board to blame for Adams debacle

Big Tone may have been ''surprised'' by the Portsmouth board's decision to sack him late on Sunday night. The rest of us were not.

Two wins in 16 games, with no win in the last nine, is form that no manager in the top division (Gareth Southgate aside) could survive. Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson has chosen to follow a philosophy of patience at the Riverside, giving his young fledgling time to turn the club around. With the relegation places looming large, those in charge of Portsmouth were not willing to offer Adams the same luxury.

When he was appointed to the position following Harry Redknapp's decision to move to Tottenham, many questioned his lack of experience. A short spell at Wycombe Wanderers and a trainee coaching role with Dutch side Feyenoord were hardly the kind of posts to put on a CV that would get you a job in the top flight.

Still, his influence at the club as assistant under Redknapp clearly fogged the board's clarity. In a time when stability was needed, Adams appeared out of his depth and, like Paul Ince and Roy Keane before him, the manager has paid the price for a chronic lack of experience.

So where do we lay the blame for Portsmouth's demise? The players? Well, Lassana Diarra and Jermain Defoe aside, the nucleus of the FA Cup winning side is still there and they still boast a number of exceptionally talented players at their disposal.

The once great defence containing the likes of David James, Sylvain Distin, Glen Johnson and Sol Campbell has withered, but good players don't become bad players overnight. The side's lack of confidence sent them plummeting down the table; but, having worked with Adams before, it would appear that his coaching methods cannot be the root of the problem.

Adams himself cannot be blamed for wanting to test himself in the Premier League. Can any of us honestly say that we wouldn't take on a challenge of such magnitude (especially for the money involved) if it was offered to us?

Perhaps some self-regulation may have come in handy, as Adams' demeanour and general man management skills appeared to be a mile away from that of his counterparts in the Premier League. But all the former England defender is guilty of is having eyes bigger than his stomach and while his ambition cannot be questioned, his suitability certainly can.

Indeed, the board have to take full responsibility for the mess. In truth, they should never have chosen Adams in the first place. Talk of a takeover and Alexandre Gaydamak's decision to put the club up for sale in December was laughable, given they had just appointed a new manager and were looking to replace some of their top stars in the transfer window.

Furthermore, their incapability to back Adams with new funds saw him resigned to picking up a collection of loan players, and Hayden Mullins, to strengthen his squad in January. With the rest of the players destabilised and disappointed by the gloom hanging over the club.

Adams was never the right man to continue the good work done by Redknapp and, with such an act to follow, was always going to be judged harshly on his results. Just over a hundred days at the helm provided him with a very harsh lesson, but he should not have been in the classroom in the first place.

Alan Curbishley and Avram Grant have emerged as contenders to take over at Fratton Park and the best that the club can hope for is that one of them decides to take up the challenge. As this season's Premier League has shown, inexperience is not tolerated at the highest level and (with relegation costing a cool £30m) Portsmouth cannot afford to make the same mistake again.

Blackburn's results improved following the sacking of Ince to such a degree that Saturday's defeat to Aston Villa was Sam Allardyce's first. Pompey must have looked at Rovers' march towards them and decided to look for a copycat upturn in fortunes.

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