Are clubs to blame for naming Adams and Ince in the first place?
For the second time in less than two months a young Englishman who had a great playing career has been sacked as the manager of a struggling Premier League club.
Tony Adams was dismissed from Portsmouth on Monday after being in charge at Fratton Park for just 16 league matches, one league match less than his old England team mate Paul Ince lasted at Blackburn Rovers.
Ince, the self-styled “Guv’nor” of his playing days became the ex-guv’nor of Blackburn Rovers in December.
The two played almost 120 matches for England between them and more than 1,200 club games during their respective playing careers at Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, West Ham United and Inter Milan among others — yet together lasted just 33 games as Premier League bosses.
In a statement, the Portsmouth board said they had taken a “difficult decision”, adding “the priority for the club is to remain in the top flight and we feel the appointment of a new manager will give us the best opportunity to enable us to do this”.
But surely they must have felt the same way when they appointed Adams, otherwise they would not have given him the job. Blackburn too, were impressed enough by Ince last summer, after he did well coaching in the lower leagues, to put their faith in him.
At the time he was shown the exit door at Ewood Park, Rovers were 19th in the table and had lost six successive matches.
Portsmouth meanwhile have slid down the table since Adams took over from Harry Redknapp when Redknapp left for Tottenham Hotspur at the end of October.
Ironically the tide began to turn against Adams after Portsmouth beat Blackburn 3-2 at the end of November.
That was one of only two of 16 Premier League matches Pompey won under him and they are now 16th in the table, one point above the relegation zone. Rovers, even having improved their results since Sam Allardyce replaced Ince, are still in the drop zone, one point worse off.
For all its romance and history, soccer is an unsentimental game and self-preservation is everything. But if both Blackburn and Portsmouth do get relegated at the end of the season, will it be the boards to blame — or the managers ?
PHOTO: Former Portsmouth manager Tony Adams gestures during their English Premier League match against Liverpool, Oct. 29, 2008. REUTERS/Phil Noble