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04 December 2023

Bumbling bosses given the boot

Tony Adams was dismissed this week following a poor run of form at Fratton Park. (GETTY IMAGES)

By John McAuley

Two managers with very different reputations, at clubs with very different expectations, met the same fate this week.

Tony Adams, the Portsmouth manager until Monday morning, was shown the door at Fratton Park after just 15 weeks in charge. Luiz Felipe Scolari, the Chelsea coach ousted hours later, was given slightly longer at Stamford Bridge: Nearly a whole nine months.

It's fair to say neither of the booted bosses were given a Sporting Chance.

Adams' bottle was drunk dry weeks before his side succumbed to a cruel injury-time defeat to Liverpool last Saturday night. Fernando Torres may have sold his fate in the dying minutes of the Premier League clash, but Portsmouth had won only two of their previous 15 games under the former Arsenal stalwart's tutelage.

Adams looked increasingly out of his depth. He looked paler by the week, bags formed around the eyes and he continued to offer manic mutterings to the press.

"There are not many big, big, big players statistically. Is there? Percentage-wise. So there's every chance there's going to be more not-good players, yeah?"

He dug his own grave.

Scolari, on the other hand, samba'd his way through the beginning of his Chelsea career. The darling of the media room and an expert on the touchline, the Brazilian guided his side through their first 12 games without a hitch, earning plaudits as quickly as he was notching wins.

Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Bordeaux were all callously put to the sword by Lampard and Co. Deco, the playmaker shunned by Barcelona, shone at the Bridge. But then the wheels came off.
The club lost their 86-game unbeaten home run to Liverpool in October and Deco went off the boil. Chelsea have failed to win nine of their past 19 games in all competitions; simply not good enough for a team that expects to be challenging on four fronts each season.

Scolari couldn't hang on to his position as the club slipped to fourth in the league. Captain John Terry hinted this week that the dressing room was not fully committed to the World Cup-winning coach's cause. The sacking still came as a shock, he said.

The club have already found a replacement, as Guus Hiddink was placed in temporary control of the side on Wednesday. The Russia manager, a confidant of owner Roman Abramovich, signed a short-term contract until the end of the season.

At Portsmouth, another man with connections in west London is being tipped to succeed the hapless Adams. Avram Grant, Scolari's predecessor, has been out of the game since he lead the Blues to the cusp of Premier and Champions League glory last May, but his relationship with Portsmouth owner Sacha Gaydamak could forge even stronger links at the south coast club.

So what next for the two managers cast by the wayside this week? A future away from football?

Both have movie star looks, albeit not in the orthodox sense. Scolari, bearing more than a passing resemblance to Hollywood's Gene Hackman, will need to prove he's Superman all over again.

Meanwhile Adams, who shares a striking similarity to the English actor Jimmy Nail, may take a while longer to get his career back on track after Pompey said "auf wiedersehen, pet" to the man who, rather unbelievably, once held the affections of supermodel Caprice.