Sports Letters: Adams Myth

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Sir: After years as the subject of much criticism both from football fans and writers, it now seems fashionable to praise Arsenal's Tony Adams.

Over the past week, praise has been heaped upon the centre-back from many quarters - including The Independent - for his supposedly exceptional display for England against Turkey and then his match-winning goal against Tottenham at Wembley.

Adams is a good header of the ball and a competent tackler, yet that is all he is. In the fundamental skills of the game, such as controlling and passing the ball, he is conspicuously lacking. The incident at Wembley when he miscued a simple clearance and then fell to the ground, letting Vinny Samways clear through on goal, highlighted this fact. He follows in a long line of English centre-backs who, despite a lack of skill, have been hugely overrated by the press (Terry Butcher and Dave Watson spring to mind).

It has, unfortunately, become accepted by many that such a player is needed in the national side to provide balance for the more elegant Des Walker. This, however, is a ridiculous notion. The great international teams have not needed a 'stopper'. For instance, the Dutch team of the 1970s based their 'total football' upon all 10 outfield players being able to control and pass the ball, which is a principle followed by most other prominent footballing nations.

The fact that Adams's rampaging yet awkward style is admired by so many nowadays represents, to me, the reason for the deterioration of standards in the English game.

Yours faithfully,


Chiswick, London W4

5 April