Football: Adams books in under FA `immunity'

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The Independent Online
JUST AS Newcastle and Manchester United now announce developments through the Stock Exchange, the day is surely coming when the Football Association releases news via Waterstones' press office. Yesterday Tony Adams followed Glenn Hoddle into print and, with Teddy Sheringham and Eileen Drewery to come, this is rapidly becoming a season of books rather than bookings.

Adams' autobiography is a harrowing description of his fight with alcoholism but, with England currently gathered at Bisham Abbey preparing for Saturday's European Championship match with Sweden, The Sun inevitably began their serialisation yesterday with the headline "Adams: Hoddle got it wrong". The front-page story went on to detail "Glenn's World Cup blunders" as seen by Adams. These were: humiliating David Beckham in training; encouraging Paul Gascoigne to drink; treating players like "kids"; and picking Alan Shearer ahead of Adams as captain.

Since Adams remains a key player in the England squad the nature, and especially the timing, of these revelations seems ill-judged. Not that the FA were concerned yesterday. David Davies, the FA's Director of Public Affairs, said: "Tony and Glenn have talked together and there is no rift, no problem. Tony is entitled to air his views."

Since Davies is co-author of Hoddle's controversial World Cup diary he could hardly say otherwise.

This is the problem with the FA's collusion with Hoddle's tome. They are now in a glass house and unable to throw stones. The evenings at England's hotel could now be filled not with card games and videos but the sound of word processors being tapped as the most intimate of the day's details are committed to print.

Brendan Batson, the Professional Footballers' Association's deputy chief executive, said that after Hoddle's book it is now open season. "Everybody is expressing their views, so why not Tony Adams?"

For Adams, especially, the cathartic desire to cleanse himself through confession, and maybe give someone else the courage to save themselves, are obvious. So, too, are the financial rewards and it is the desire to maximise them which has led, as with Hoddle, to the untimely and over- dramatic tabloid serialisation.

As Bobby Robson, the former England manager, whose own World Cup books were comparatively restrained, said yesterday: "Adams is a very important player and [at training] he'll be looking at Glenn, and Glenn will be looking at him. Do you need that in your life?"

One player who has had plenty of time to write a book is Jamie Redknapp but, in his case, it would have been about the drudgery of rehabilitation after injury. He forsook the opportunity concentrating instead on getting fit after missing France 98. To judge by a typically composed display against Newcastle on Sunday he has succeeded and will now contest with Rob Lee and Ray Parlour the midfield spot vacated by the suspended David Beckham.

This follows Hoddle's apparent abandoning of his plan to groom Redknapp as a sweeper, a decision the player is happy to accept. But for injury, which has struck on several occasions on England duty, most notably when he was bringing order to the English midfield against Scotland in Euro 96, Redknapp would have won far more than his eight England caps. Still only 25 he committed himself this summer to a long-term contract with his club, Liverpool. Now the emphasis is on looking forward.

"Throughout all the injuries I never doubted that I would come back. As soon as you do that you are in trouble. It was difficult missing the World Cup but I knew I was not right and you have to look at the long- term, I could have tried to play and done further damage. I would have gone out to France if we'd have made the quarter-finals and I kept in touch even if it wasn't the greatest feeling to be watching. I worked very hard this summer, setting myself goals, and I'm fit now.

"We've started well at Liverpool, we're tighter at the back which is good as we can go forward without thinking we could concede a goal at any time."

Liverpool have a strong presence in the England squad with Paul Ince, Steve McManaman and, of course, Michael Owen. "He's dynamite," said Redknapp whose chances of starting in Stockholm are helped by the Anfield link. "It's so important to get the ball to him. You can hit a bad ball and the next thing you know he's on to it."

There was more; when it comes to eulogising about Owen, almost anyone in the England squad could fill a book. Now there's an idea...

Scotland's Seedorf, page 23