Tony Adams’ brief and fraught tenure as Portsmouth’s manager ended abruptly today as the former England centre-half was sacked less than four months into a two-and-a-half-year contract at Fratton Park. The former Nottingham Forest manager Paul Hart due to take over on a caretaker basis while the struggling Premier League club search for a successor.
Defeat by Liverpool on Saturday, condemned Portsmouth to a fourth consecutive loss in all competitions and a ninth league game without a win. That sequence has seen the club plummet from mid-table to within a point of the relegation zone and eroded what faith had been held in the 42-year-old, who stepped up in place of Harry Redknapp after he left to join Tottenham Hotspur in October.
The Portsmouth executive chairman, Peter Storrie, had remained largely supportive of Adams through their miserable run, saying only last week that, while he and the club’s owner, Alexandre Gaydamak, were “concerned” at recent results, it was “important we all pull together and get behind Tony and the team”. A week later, and after another defeat left Adams saddled with a record of two league wins in 16 games in charge, the club’s hierarchy determined that action had to be taken to alleviate the slump.
Manchester City visit Fratton Park on Saturday and then come key games against fellow strugglers Stoke City and Middlesbrough.
The manager was informed by Storrie last night, with talks over compensation likely to continue today. The club’s board will now turn their attentions to finding a successor, with the former Chelsea manager Avram Grant, previously footballing director at Fratton Park, expected to feature on their list of possible replacements. It remains to be seen whether the former Charlton and West Ham manager Alan Curbishley would consider taking up the reins as he continues his attempt to secure compensation dating from his time at Upton Park.
While Pompey have struggled under Adams, the Portsmouth board did not make his job any easier selling Jermain Defoe and Lassana Diarra to Spurs and Real Madrid last month for around £35 million. Add in the ownership issues; Gaydamak is looking for a buyer for the team; and it is not hard ot see why Pompey were only able to attract Jermaine Pennant, Theofanis Gekas, Pele and Angelos Basinas during the January transfer window. Neither of the three new players are of the caliber of Defoe or Diarra.
Portsmouth were making no public comment Sunday night, though a statement is expected to be issued Monday morning. Hart, currently head of youth operations at the club, will take over in the interim and will be in charge on Saturday.