Tony Adams and Roy Keane renew their old Arsenal-Manchester United rivalry this weekend but the Portsmouth manager believes management has turned his old sparring partner soft. Adams and Keane were opposing captains during the meetings between the two Premier League giants in the mid-to-late 1990s but struck up a rapport when they studied for their Uefa B Licence five years ago.
Sunderland manager Keane sent Adams a congratulatory fax when he was appointed at Fratton Park following Harry Redknapp's departure and the Pompey manager confesses the Irishman off the pitch is a totally different animal. Adams said: "He faxed through a good luck message when I took over, a letter came through when I first took over so that was really great and I thank him for his support.
"You perceive someone when you are playing against them very differently to how they are off the pitch. On the Uefa course he was very charming, warm and just a lovely guy. I enjoyed my time with a man who is actually very intelligent, very courteous and respectful. When you can sit down with someone and have dinner you can get to know them better.
"We played each other many times over the years and you have perceptions of people through football but he was very different. In my experience of Roy he is a fantastic coach, got involved and there is a drive there that I identify with. He wants to do things right and is very determined.
"I think my old mate Niall Quinn [Sunderland chairman and a former Arsenal team-mate of Adams] has got himself a very good manager there. We are both very fortunate because we both had very good careers but we are starting all over again. At the moment in terms of honours and time Roy is pipping me and I do not like it."
Keane is in hot water with the Football Association after being charged with improper conduct following his actions in the tunnel at half-time during Sunderland's 5-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge. He was banished to the stands by referee Martin Atkinson but Adams understands the exaggerated emotions football management can generate. Adams added: "I can identify with the way Roy does not like losing. Hopefully my anger will come appropriately. It is frustrating at times with decisions but my attitude and behaviour so far have been good and I would like to think I can maintain it. I hate losing, but hopefully I can react in the same way as winning."
Adams' search for an assistant manager continues after Martin Keown rejected the chance to rejoin his former Arsenal central defensive colleague at Fratton Park. Keown has elected to continue his work as a BBC pundit and Adams also revealed it is unlikely Pompey fans will see Dennis Bergkamp standing next to him on the touchline. Adams said: "I have not spoken with Dennis but I have had a conversation with Martin and it seems at this stage he would rather be one side of the camera rather than the other.
"There are a lot of options available to me but it is unlikely to be Dennis. He has got a fantastic presence on the training pitch but I do not know what he is like as a coach because I have never seen him in action."
David James is happy to stay at Portsmouth but fears players will leave in January to balance the books. Adams admitted he would not stand in the way of players wanting to leave, although James feels his team-mates would not be pushing for transfers elsewhere. "I'd imagine that if any players left, it would be down to financial reasons and nothing else," said James. "You could argue that if some do leave, it would have happened with Harry had he been here any way. We've got some excellent players and I don't know of any who want to leave just because Harry has gone."
James insists he wants to stay at Pompey, where he has revived his career under Redknapp. "Although Harry has left, nothing has changed as far as I'm concerned regarding my future at the club," he said. "I'm very confident for the future with the players we've got here."Reuse content