Date: 21st December 2008 at 1:17pm
Written by:

Tony Adams was disappointed with his sides ‘awful’ performance against Bolton yesterday, as he told sky sports. These are his thoughts, along with the usual bunch of my own and then a ‘Rug’s final thought’ ramble…

Adams on ‘losing every battle’
‘We were awful. We didn’t start well at all, we never came out of the traps, very disappointing.

‘We didn’t win one battle, one fight, one one-v-one. They started well, they put the ball in behind us, pressed us and out-fought us and that was really disappointing.’

The majority of the ‘fight’ in most of our players has gone, as said several times we play as a side and not a team anymore – by that I mean too many are out for themselves, we are a collection of ‘talented players’, but not necessarily players that are willing to play as a team and will not put in the graft needed, in many ways we mirror our former manager, as important to us as he was… I want quality footballers, but also want players that want to play as a team and want to play for the shirt!

Adams on being ‘angry’
‘God, I was fuming and I told them so at half-time, I don’t think they’ve ever seen me like that, I’ve kind of lost my voice a little bit.

‘But I am honest with them and I can’t say they did well if they didn’t and through my career as a coach and a manager and life I try to be honest with people and I can look them in the eye and say: ‘That’s just not good enough’.

‘There was a positive reaction because I have got a good group of guys – I’ve got an honest bunch, they are good guys – but they didn’t come out of the traps.’

The blame ‘always’ lies with the manager but all too often – and not just with Pompey – the ‘players power’ is winning too many battles these days. Adams needs to take the blame for some of his selections and the way he lines the side up, allowing players to ‘drift’ out of position is something that he just cannot allow players to do, and the ‘Bolton of old hoof it long football’ we played is embarrassing – again, if done against his will, as surely it must be, he again needs to give them a good shoeing to ensure they stop this ‘limp it long from the back’ style of old school, old brand and out dated stuff – well certainly with the type of player we have.

Adams on ‘getting what we deserved’
‘We got exactly what we deserved – nothing. There are certain fundamentals in football you have to do to win football games and we didn’t do them. You have to compete, you have to stand up and we got rolled over in the first 15 minutes.’

We were beaten and rightly so, the only real injustice was that we were not beaten more heavily – that would have been exactly what we deserved! Thankfully Bolton ‘let us off the hook’ in that respect and a few decent saves and some proof that we can actually defend helped…

Adams on Diarra
‘I needed to get about 25-30 minutes into him. I am a professional and he is one of my players at the moment, he is a Portsmouth player and injuries happen whether it is in training, at Portsmouth or Real Madrid.

‘I will be professional – until he is not at Portsmouth anymore and he has gone to Real Madrid I will do my job.

‘If he’s not and he’s at Real Madrid, good luck to him and we’ll get on with the business at Portsmouth.’

I was amazed that he was not only in the squad, but that he also played – albeit a token gesture as even he did not seem that up for it, and can you blame him? Why jeopardise a ‘dream move’ to Madrid! Although, that said some ‘reports’ claim that he is himself pricing himself out of this move – which ‘if’ true maybe money means more to him, for the sake of a few thousand, even several thousand, I know that Madrid would be my destination over other ‘touted’. He is ‘said’ to have been very emotional after the game though, which I think shows that he had enjoyed his time here and is sad to go. We were good for each other, and it worked well.

‘If’ the deal has not been all but sealed come Boxing Day he will start, and that would be a dangerous game to be playing – for me that would suggest that the Madrid deal would be off…

Rug’s final thoughts… ‘sink or swim’
Well, Tony, you will either sink or swim now – the next 4 or 5 weeks are not only going to determine what your future in the game will be but also quite possible what the future of Pompey will be – or direction at least it will take, and I wish you nothing but the best of luck, unfortunately I fear that you might need it – but you can rest assured that I will be backing you as you are leading what I support and back the most ‘Portsmouth Football Club’…

Despite all that is said there is clearly ‘disharmony’ at the club – are players concerned because the do not know if they are coming or going, are they unsettled because they have been ‘unsettled’ by whisperings in their ear, are they unsettled because they ‘do not like’ the new manager? Sol Campbell has ‘voiced concerns’ about the lack of harmony behind the scenes at the club and this is causing a knock-on effect with the performances – sorry, but these fellas get paid a kings ransom to do what they do as ‘a job’, so regardless as to what is happening once on that pitch they should bloody well put it out of their minds and give 100% and focus on the job in hand. Christ, I – and each of you I am sure – have problems at work and so on but can I go in and get away with the excuse ‘the arguing in the office or uncertainty about my own future is causing me too much distraction to fully focus on my job?’ Nope, it might be looked into but chances are I would be told to put up or shut up – time these modern day footballers did the same…

Adams, as much as I might back and support him – maybe this is more out of hope than anything, not even I know this yet? – is not helping things with some of the ‘strange’ things he comes out with, and is not fooling anyone with what he says. Claims that he will ‘get all the money raised’ are ridiculous. He will get some, but no way will he get all. His tinkering with the side needs to stop as well – going ‘back to basics’, well not even that has worked. A change of manager I hoped would mean no more ‘square pegs in round holes’ – we are still seeing this! Trying to ‘accommodate’ players looks to be causing more harm than good, play players in positions they are meant to play – that is a good starting point!

Width is what had been serving us so well recently, why suddenly dispense with this?

Ok, injuries might not have helped but if players are fit and available why not use them? But ‘if’ we must insist on persevering with this ‘square pegs in round holes’ route then he has to tell those playing in the wide areas ‘bloody well stay out wide or you do not play at all!’ Papa Bouba Diop cannot do this role – how many times do we need to see him try and fail to know – Glen Little might lack the pace but at least it is not ‘foreign’ to him, why have Jerome Thomas here if he is not going to get a look in – another wasted signing, with wages wasted! I know the fella is young and inexperienced and Heerenveen might not have been the greatest of sides to judge but Marc Wilson had a fantastic game, surely he would have offered much more in a right sided midfield role… For all his quality if we are not going to utilise Niko Kranjcar fully then he is a ‘luxury’ we can ill afford to have. If he is playing out wide, again he must be told to stay out there and be disciplined – something he lacks. When we fail to use him he comes looking for the ball, and that helps no one. He still needs a free role to be most efficient for us – unfortunately this is not a role that we seem to be able to give to him, unless we play a 5 man midfield, which means one of the strikers dips out.

Speaking of the strikers it is time that Jermain Defoe stopped moping around the pitch all the time – he is the first to berate his teammates if they do not pass to him, but how often does he then do the same thing, which he seems to think is ok – another classic case of the ‘side’ not ‘team’ aspect I mentioned previously for me perhaps, and to be honest Peter Crouch offers us more ‘team’ not ‘side’ effort and although I do not want either to go I know which one I would be far more willing to almost ‘order the taxi for’ these days, something I did not think I would be saying to be honest… Maybe Defoe just needs a few goals to get him going again, but at the moment his head certainly does not seem right – so if he wants to go – if that is what it is – lets get shot of him, and others who fall into the same boat. Although, and do not quote me as ‘gospel’ word is it is actually the club that are making noises to the sound that he ‘could’ be available, and it is not actually the player himself actively looking to move on – maybe this is where the problem lays, loyalty from the players might not be the problem as such, loyalty from the club might be?

A few heads need cracking together, more transparency needs to be given by the club – ‘if’ players are basically up for grabs just be honest and open with them and stop feeding us all this bull about everything being ok. I think we all know that we are in debt, but again who is not and I do not believe things are out of control, our debt is ‘manageable’ and selling a certain Frenchman ‘should’ make it even more so. As fans we deserve the right to know what our money is going towards, if we are to keep shelling out just for players to be sold we need to know. I pay to watch the club I love, but I also want to see good players, but good players that want to play. Clearly they cannot, and will not ‘openly admit’ that players need to go, but some truth when we hear so many contradictions, would not go a miss…

Adams needs to do this too, no more pussy footing around – if these players want to act like spoilt kids, then treat them like spoilt kids by giving them a spanking, and the best way to do that is drop them! I would much rather have players, albeit it less technically gifted come in and ‘want’ to play than have multi million pound players basically wonder around the pitch aimlessly without the fight and spirit to want to ‘die for the shirt’ – something that we had always had plenty of in the past! Star name or not a shift and graft needs to be put in. But he selects the team, so he now has to command respect from them, as said if dropping them is the way to do it so be it – if they react by throwing their toys out of the pram then so be it, we will soon find out who really wants to be here or not, again though as previously said we need to also show them that we want them here and should not be treating them like pieces of meat either.

Players have too much power these days, show them who is boss Tony, if you cannot do this them you will never have the respect you need to be successful – we see this all too often these days and have seen it with Spurs, Blackburn and to a degree Sunderland this season, once the ‘respect goes for the manager’ the players basically cannot be assed to even bother, yet they get away scot-free! I find it funny that basically the same players at each club mentioned can go from ‘nothing’ to almost world beaters once they ‘get their own way’ – if this is what success means you need then although I do not want to go down I would settle for ‘middle of the road’ standard I guess. Harry Redknapp was a lot of ‘what was good about Pompey’ over the years, but if he was ‘everything’ that was good about Pompey then the man really is the second coming and all should hail to him – walking on water would not be a problem!

Soul searching, honesty and loyalty – both ways – is something that we need to see doing with everyone at Portsmouth Football Club in the coming weeks, from top to bottom, weeding out those that ‘do not’ want to be here anymore needs to be done – those that do want to be here need to be utilised, even if they are not ‘as good’ as those they replace. As said at the start of my ‘ramble’ it is now sink or swim time, and basically – as much as he can do without his hands tied – this is what is about to happen, so Tony its over to you, with support and backing from the club, support that they keep claiming you have…


Join the Vital Pompey Debate