PORTSMOUTH have admitted they had to give sorcerer Harry Redknapp’s old job to his apprentice Tony Adams to prevent the former Arsenal star walking out and being snapped up elsewhere.
Adams, 42, who was brought in at Fratton Park by Redknapp two years ago as his assistant after Kevin Bond left for Newcastle, feared he was ready to make the step up after his boss dramatically quit Pompey for a second time at the weekend for Tottenham.
Adams who was in his third season under Redknapp, having signed a succession of one-year deals while keeping an eye on other likely management positions up and down the league, was yesterday named new Portsmouth manager having signed a two-and-a-half year deal.
He said: “Harry will be a tough act to follow — but I’m convinced my time is now. I would have been gutted if they hadn’t given it to me.”
Portsmouth's new executive chairman Peter Storrie admitted: “We intended to take our time replacing Harry because his leaving was such a shock. But after we spoke and then slept on it we had a reflection on the situation and Sacha said he thought that really we should act quickly if we wanted to appoint Tony and let the club move on.
“He’s a very popular choice, the fans were chanting his name when he and Joe Jordan (first-team coach) were in charge against Fulham just after Harry left — and we knew he really wanted it. If we hadn’t given it to him he would probably have left and he’s too good for us to let that happen. I think we are all very pleased he’s taken it.”
After 22 years’ distinguished service as a player with Arsenal, his only club, former England captain Adams had an ill-fated spell as Wycombe Wanderers manager in League Two four years ago.
He won only 12 games of 53 at a club where he believed his main job was to save it from financial meltdown by cutting the wages and expenses and he eventually left to take a degree in sports science at university and part-time coaching roles in Holland one at Rotterdam giants Feyenoord.
But he was persuaded by Redknapp to come into the Premier League after Bond left the Pompey coaching team for Newcastle and said: “I feel I’ve been here long enough now to know my next step is back into management and I’m ready for the opportunity.
“It is fantastic to be named manager of Portsmouth. I’m very excited and can’t wait to get going — although I feel I already have.”
Former Newcastle and Bolton boss Sam Allardyce and ex-Chelsea chief Avram Grant — who went to Stamford Bridge from the position of technical director at Pompey and is a close friend of Gaydamak — were among the candidates touted for Redknapp’s old role. But Adams, whose first game is at Premier League leaders Liverpool tonight, said: “I would have been really disappointed if anybody had got the job over me.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that these are my kind of people at Portsmouth, working-class passionate fans who want to see entertaining football. I have some fantastic players here. It’s like Christmas — the best job in the world. I just want to get out there and get on with it.
“If I can get them into the top 10 again this season I think it will be outstanding. Here, things look good. We are in four competitions including Europe and, of course, I’m up for all that, but nobody knows what can happen.
“Maybe things go wrong sometimes. You can’t say — but I’m confident this is the time and the big opportunity for me and I’m honoured to have it.”
Adams has also revealed that he sought the advice of his former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger before accepting the role.
Adams said, “I spoke to Arsene, and he said, ‘welcome to hell’. I asked him, ‘are you scared? I'm coming for you’.”
First-team coach Joe Jordan’s position looks less clear, though, after Adams refused to elaborate on a possible plan to bring in his former Arsenal defence-partner Martin Keown.
Jordan may be offered a position at Tottenham by Redknapp and Adams said: “Joe has done a great job at this club and I would 100% want him to stay — but he’s a big man and will make his own decisions.”
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