'Tony Adams wasn’t a popular choice with a lot of the big hitters': Glen Little on ex-Portsmouth boss' struggles with dressing room

Several Pompey ‘big hitters’ were against Tony Adams’ appointment as manager.

By Neil Allen
Friday, 13th August 2021, 9:00 am
Tony Adams spent an unsuccessful 106 days as Pompey boss. Picture: Alan Crowhurst
Tony Adams spent an unsuccessful 106 days as Pompey boss. Picture: Alan Crowhurst

According to Glen Little, the decision to promote the assistant manager to replace Harry Redknapp in October 2008 wasn’t well received by some inside the dressing room.

The former Blues winger has revealed skipper Sol Campbell and goalkeeper David James, in particular, were not behind putting Adams in charge.

Ultimately, the former Arsenal skipper lasted 106 days at Fratton Park’s helm, before succeeded by Paul Hart on a caretaker basis.

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And Little has explained the difficulty Adams had in winning over some of his key performers.

He told The News: ‘I’ve got to be honest, I thought nothing would change when Tony came in. Look at the side he still had.

‘But he wasn’t a popular choice with a lot of the big hitters.

‘I didn’t need a manager to try to get the best out of me, I always took pride in my performance and backed myself. I didn’t do it for the manager, just to help the team win.

Pompey winger Glen Little and AC Milan's Emerson battle for the ball. Picture: Chris Ison

‘I couldn’t care who the manager was. Yes, some were better than others, but when I went on that pitch I took pride in my performance, I wanted people to say “That Glen Little, he’s a good player”.

‘I was gutted how Harry left because I had come in to play for him and we were going well. It was disappointing.

‘Then Tony took over and I thought “Well, the team’s still here, we’ve got good players” – but there were a lot of players not having him.

‘Two in particular. I don’t think David James was ever convinced and neither was Sol.

Glen Little made eight appearances for Pompey during an injury-hampered 2008-09 season. Picture: Dave Haines

‘With Sol, there was jealousy. To me, it was a case of “I’m the Arsenal Invincible, yet people say Tony is the legend”.

‘I know from being in the treatment room when Tony got the job that Sol man was not happy. I just remember Sol saying “Nah, no way”.

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‘I was at Reading with Martin Keown and I can recall him saying: “When I was at Arsenal, I’d train all week, while Tony came out on the Friday. Then, in the Sunday papers, he’s getting a nine out of 10 and I’m getting a six”.

‘I used to think “Martin, you’re a bit of a ledge, mate, you’ve had a great career. Why do you care about your ratings in the paper?”. The egos of footballers, eh.

‘I don’t actually know why David James didn’t like Tony. You do have to say, that season Jamo started making a few mistakes, he wasn’t as good.’

Adams won just four of his 22 matches in charge before being sacked in February 2009.

Pompey had a troubling habit of conceding late goals during that period, including drawing 2-2 with AC Milan after leading 2-0 with six minutes remaining.

He later went on to manage Azerbaijani club Gabala and Spanish outfit Granada, while in 2019 was named president of the Rugby Football League.

Little added: ‘I would probably say Tony wasn’t a manager, it’s not as if he has managed since.

‘He was enthusiastic and delighted he got the job, it meant a lot to him, but it just didn’t happen.

‘I wouldn’t say he didn’t have a clue what he was doing. I had Kevin Blackwell at Luton and he was clueless, a non-league goalkeeper.

‘Whereas Tony had a great career, yet didn’t get the luck.

‘Don’t forget, Lassana Diarra left and so did Jermain Defoe when he was manager, so you are losing your best striker and best midfielder – and not replacing them.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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