Portsmouth are expected to announce the departure of manager Tony Adams this morning. It is understood that the board do not believe that Adams can get the club out of trouble and former Chelsea manager Avram Grant is the favourite to be given the job of saving Portsmouth from relegation.
While the last-minute 3-2 defeat to Liverpool on Saturday was a major disappointment, Adams’ future was still very much in doubt before then.
The defeat away to Fulham on 31 January was the turning point and chief executive Peter Storrie canvassed the opinions of senior players after that match. The club have moved now to give the new manager the chance to establish himself during the break for internationals and the FA Cup.
Grant has not worked since being sacked by Chelsea in May and will be a relatively straightforward appointment.
The club regard the run of forthcoming games against fellow relegation rivals as Portsmouth’s best chance of picking up the points to survive. They virtually wrote off the game against Liverpool in order to give their new manager a better chance of a winning start. The next league game is at home to Manchester City on 15 February.
Adams, 42, originally resigned after the defeat to Fulham but was persuaded to stay at the club. While there are some difficult games coming up against City, Chelsea and Everton there are also five games out of the next eight that Pompey will have to win in order to survive. They will play Stoke (away), Middlesbrough (away), Hull (away), West Bromwich Albion (home) and Bolton (home) – all games against fellow strugglers that will be crucial to Pompey’s survival.
Last night the former West Ham manager Alan Curbishley, a pundit on the BBC’s Match of the Day 2 programme, would not rule himself out of the running for the job. Asked whether he was interested, Curbishley said: “If Portsmouth had held on yesterday for a couple of minutes and win that game he wouldn’t be out. If it is true I am desperately disappointed for Tony Adams, he has been given an opportunity and has found himself in a very difficult situation.”
Portsmouth are in 16th position with 24 points, which puts them one point from the relegation zone, and have had only two wins in the 16 games in which Adams has been in charge. During that time they have also been knocked out the FA Cup by Swansea City.
Saturday’s game was the seventh defeat in eight. Adams has often changed his team selections close to kick-off and has not proved the domineering forceful presence in the dressing room he once was as a player.
Adams was only given a two and a half year contract when Harry Redknapp left the club in October.
With owner Sacha Gaydamak trying to sell the club, Adams was unofficially regarded as a temporary appointment until new owners took over. He has certainly proved to be a temporary appointment although the club has still not been sold.
Jermain Defoe and Lassana Diarra have been sold during January althoughAdams was well aware of the financial restrictions at the club when he took the job. He has brought in Jermaine Pennant on loan from Liverpool as well as Theofanis Gekas (on loan from Bayer Leverkusen), Vitor Pele (on loan from Porto) and midfielder Angelos Basinas (on a free transfer from AEK Athens).