Tony Adams needs escapologists not jailbirds at Portsmouth

26 January 2009 07:46
After signing Jermaine Pennant, who once served time for drink driving, Adams is keen to bring to Fratton Park that other erstwhile jailbird, Joey Barton.

With those two on board, it can only be a matter of time before Paul Gascoigne is offered a coaching job in what is rapidly becoming the seaside branch of Adams' Sporting Chance clinic.

There is no doubt Adams is his own man. Indeed, so singularly does he tread an idiosyncratic furrow, it sometimes seems as if he is in a world of his own.

A colleague recalls trying to make small talk with him once by complaining about the appalling weather, pointing to the rain slanting into the training ground.

'Ah,' Adams said. 'That's your reality. Others would look at it very differently.'

Unfortunately for Adams right now, most can agree on the reality he is facing. Portsmouth are in trouble. Points this week against Aston Villa and Fulham essential if they are not to be sucked into the quicksand at the bottom of the Premier League.

After watching them fail in the FA Cup against Swansea on Saturday, few can be confident of such an outcome. The decline since Adams became manager last October has been astonishing.

On the surface, when he took over Portsmouth looked like a club on the up. Buoyed by Alexandre Gaydamak's finances and Harry Redknapp's man-management, they won the Cup and promised expansion into Europe.

But, in a vivid demonstration of the wider economic downturn, it was a promise built on a chimera, a financial model constructed on debt.

And with Redknapp gone and Gaydamak desperate to get out before he is consumed by an avalanche of negative equity, the confidence on which the illusion depended has seeped out of Fratton Park, along with the best players.

If David James joins Jermain Defoe and Lassana Diarra in departing, Adams will be in the kind of trouble that would require the services of an escapologist, rather than anyone who has recently been locked up.

Worse, watching Adams in action in the technical area does not fill the average Pompey fan with hope that he is the man to face down oncoming disaster.

Pained, distracted, his attempts at self-deprecating humour failing to mask a mounting terror, he looks like a man who knows that he is not sufficiently equipped with either the external or internal resources to navigate his way out of the mess.

As his results since taking charge indicate, Portsmouth are in real danger of imploding around him.

And the pity is, if they are to do so, Adams will be the one who is blamed. The record book will show he took control of a club at their highest water mark.

No one will recall the other contributing factors. Results are all that matter. Even in Tony Adams' world, that is the reality.

Source: Telegraph