Tony Adams - "Arsenal are a million miles away"


GOONER1991 (Trusted Member) on January 19th, 2013, 1:07 pm

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/peopl ... 58290.html

Tony Adams wrote:
By virtue of the statue of him that stands outside the Emirates Stadium, you could say that Tony Adams's presence is felt at Arsenal every matchday whether he is there in person or not, but he has had special reason to be back there of late.

His two sons Atticus, eight, and Hector, six, from his second marriage, had shown worrying signs of straying from the family loyalty – in short, the elder was declaring an interest in Manchester United, and his younger brother said he supported Manchester City. "I was getting very worried about this," Adams said. "So I took them to a game or two and now they are Arsenal fans."

When we meet on a frosty morning in the Cotswolds, where Adams now lives, the most successful captain in the history of Arsenal Football Club is bursting with ideas and opinions. He had a very public transformation from the classic lion-hearted English centre-half to a more contemplative, thoughtful man, via prison and a battle with alcoholism but, at 46, he remains as enthusiastic for the game as he was making his debut at Highbury, at 17.

Adams is still contracted to Gabala FC, the Azerbaijan Premier League club he coached until late 2011; he and his family lived out there for 18 months. Now he is officially an advisor to club president Tale Heydarov, recruiting a CEO, academy and stadium directors in Europe and establishing the club, which is building a new ground, in the long term.

He enthuses about his charity Sporting Chance, which put 30 sportsmen through rehabilitation last year, including three rugby league players who appeared in August's Challenge Cup final. This year, Adams will himself reach 17 years sober, and he has already written 30,000 words of a sequel to his bestselling 1998 autobiography Addicted, one of the great sporting memoirs. And then there is Arsenal.

When he returned from Azerbaijan, he offered his services to the club. He was quite happy to work anywhere from the first team to the under-12s, he says, just to keep his eye in. "I went to see Arsène [Wenger] a couple of times," Adams says. "He put Steve [Bould] and Neil Banfield up there; fine, that's his decision, he is the boss. I said to the board, 'Do you want me to advise or talk to you?' I have got a statue outside! And they have not responded. I'm kind of cool with it. I know how this game works. It is bonkers. I feel like I'm doing an 11-year apprenticeship [as a manager]. It's OK, it's finding my part in it. I have stopped looking, full stop. I live my life a day at a time anyway and whatever comes up I do. Be careful what you pray for. I have got a great job."

Although Adams is outspoken on the state of the modern Arsenal team – "a million miles away", he says, from competing for trophies – he does so as the man who won, among other trophies, four league titles at the club over almost two decades. As an Arsenal captain whom Sir Alex Ferguson once tried to sign, he is instructive on the sale of Robin van Persie, whom Adams counts as a personal friend, to United.

"I thought they should have retained him. With 18 months on his deal to go you say to Robin, 'There's a five-year contract, bang, I'm going to build a team around you'. Robin would have snapped their hands off. It would have doubled his wages at that time. He questioned their ambition and kept questioning them and they kept selling.

"In 1991, Bryan Robson came up to me at an England get-together and said, '£90,000-a-year to join United'. I said, 'I'm a London lad, I'm happy'. I turned down a pay rise of 15 grand, which was an absolute fortune in those days. In 1996 Alex Ferguson came knocking again.

"In 1996, I had just sobered up. I had a meeting with David Dein and Ken Friar and said, 'What are we doing [at Arsenal]?' They said, 'We're going for it. Danny Fiszman has invested £50m.' We bought David Platt, Dennis Bergkamp; then Arsène came in, then the French guys and I got the best contract of my career. It went from £300,000 up to £1m and I thought, 'Oh my god, I'll stay! We're going to try to win the league.'

"It is not a small wage bill [at Arsenal], it's £143m. I think they can restructure it and give the big boys a lot more and not put so many of the middle order ones on 50 grand a week. They could have put four or five on the top money. If they had done, I would have been positive that Robin would still be an Arsenal player.

"I like Arsenal's standards. No person is bigger than the club. I agree with that 100 per cent. But that's not the issue. Even going back to Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell – these players left too early. So too Gaël Clichy, Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song, even Marc Overmars and Emmanuel Petit. I think you could have got two or three years out of them. Instead [with the exception of Campbell] they chose to take the money. Which was fine, I understand balancing books.

"But Robin is not a football nor a financial decision. He will get the money back for you. If you drop out of the Champions League, you aren't going to get the £25m. Give that to Robin. And the manager is paying himself a few quid. That is what irritates the fans as well. Ivan [Gazidis, chief executive] is on a lot of money, Arsène is on a lot of money. The fans come to watch the players and think 'Hold on a minute, give him your money!'

"I can see both ways. I understand the core values of Arsenal. I just think there is a way of doing it where you can keep your better players and challenge for the league."

It would be a mistake to characterise Adams as dismissive of Wenger. He enthuses about the "physiological" knowledge of his former manager, and the effect it had on his career. He points out that Wenger still takes training every day. "We have all got strengths and weaknesses. Arsène said that to me 15 years ago."

He does not think that the next Arsenal manager, when the day comes, will be responsible for so much. "He kind of runs everything," Adams says; "I think it'll be a head coach next time."

With last Sunday's home defeat to Manchester City in mind, and Laurent Koscielny's disastrous red card on nine minutes, it is interesting to hear Adams's thoughts on the current defence. They face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge tomorrow and while the home side are undoubtedly brittle, it is equally the case that Arsenal's back four is prone to wobbling.

"I don't agree with the way he rotates his central defenders," Adams says. "It's an area of the pitch [where] you need familiarity. This is the argument I would have with him. His full-backs are too offensive. It's OK if you have someone in central midfield who can play centre-half. They got destroyed by AC Milan [4-0 away from home in the Champions League first knockout round] by balls into the channels. If you've got a Patrick [Vieira] or Manu [Petit] to drop in and play central defence it's different.

"This game is about players and they [Arsenal] haven't got the players. I would have loved Vincent Kompany. I think he is exceptional. He was the best defender in the league last year and before that Rio Ferdinand and [Nemanja] Vidic have been great. I am a big fan of Jonny Evans.

"I will say, year in, year out, the team with the best defence wins the league. You have to be resilient and last year Manchester City with Vincent – he was the best. They have had a few problems early in the season but Pablo Zabaleta has had a good season. Gaël Clichy has improved. All of a sudden they are getting better.

"Hopefully Arsène is giving Steve [Bould] access [to the defence] because Steve knows how to do it. He played with me under George Graham. I don't see why, given time and access, Steve can't make a significant improvement. I do worry about how Arsène rotates them.

"If I was playing alongside Steve one week and then Martin Keown, I could cope but it's different. Per Mertesacker is a zonal defender and Koscielny is a man-to-man marker. They do different things. In front, Mikel Arteta is trying to the best of his ability, but in his mind he is not defensive."

What will the legacy be for Wenger if his time in charge of Arsenal ends without further success? "Arsène will do what Arsène wants to do," Adams says. "I played with him for six years, I have met him a few times. The more I get to know him the less I know him. I haven't got a clue how that man thinks, or how he works. He is a difficult man to fathom."

Adams is sympathetic to the challenges Arsenal face in the new order of English football, but he foresees problems. "The board see profits and it's got to the stage where the fans see no trophies. There is a balance; it is difficult, don't get me wrong. But they have to try to do it. The board, the owner and Arsène's job is to structure it in a way where you keep your best players, they are on good salaries and you are going for trophies. Because they are a million miles away at the moment."


Interesting that he says that he was looking for a job at Arsenal, but the board have never got back to him. It seems that there is a very awkward relationship between Adams and the club - despite the fact that they've recently built him a statue - and there seems to be something about Adams that the club want to keep away.
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jones (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 1:21 pm

Quite a few points where I disagree with him. He's really not doing himself any favors with this kind of talk, might endear himself to the fans but is he really expecting to get a look into the club if he's talking about giving Wenger's and Gazidis' salaries to van Persie?

He's a club legend, and you can tell he genuinely cares about the club, but he needs a good PR manager or something before he can take up a relevant position at the club. Would still like to see him at Arsenal in a role, possibly akin to Vieira's at City.
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Taylor Gang Gunners (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 1:30 pm

God, just how bitter is this guy?

I mean, yes, he has some valid points, of course he does. But the tone of what he said, for me, is bitterness personified. Of all the legends that have left this club, Vieira included, Adams has condemned us the most.

Yes, he cares deeply about this club and has provided us with perhaps the most legendary quote in the club's history in terms of playing staff, but it seems like every time he speaks about us its in a negative way. I remember watching goals on Sunday when he was a guest and he was just extremely critical.

Due to his sheer affection for Arsenal, I wouldn't mind him coming back in some capacity. But before then I'd like to see a bit more positivity from him.
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Glovegun (Trusted Member) on January 19th, 2013, 3:28 pm

I don't think its bitterness. He, like Ian Wright, just seems to feel a bit alienated from the Arsenal of today. The club has changed so much in the last fifteen years - and not necessarily for the better. However, bit below the belt to mention Wenger's salary.

He's right about our defence though, and RVP, I think we all know that.
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The Jury (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 3:33 pm

He's obviously waiting for the fat gangster to take over. His words to date will have hardly endeared himself to the current hierarchy. He knows this, and has no fcks to give really. He wants to be part of the 'brave new (bent) Arsenal', should it ever happen. If it doesn't...well....he's still banged Caprice in her prime. He should be forever grateful to the club for that, at least.

Jbruin (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 3:51 pm

Damn right he's bitter, he's MR ARSENAL... And he's never been given an opportunity to help the club he loves after he retired... I'd be bitter at the higher ups for that aswell. Whatever he says never doubt his love for this club, proper Arsenal.
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THunter (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 3:54 pm

We should have Adams and Henry at the club, doing something similar to what Bayern have their legends do.
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a_fourteen (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 4:48 pm

In the meantime, Dennis Bergkamp has signaled a willingness to return to arsenal in a coaching role. I know who I'd rather have back.

MaestroCesc (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 4:54 pm

Glovegun wrote:I don't think its bitterness. He, like Ian Wright, just seems to feel a bit alienated from the Arsenal of today. The club has changed so much in the last fifteen years - and not necessarily for the better. However, bit below the belt to mention Wenger's salary.

He's right about our defence though, and RVP, I think we all know that.

This, its not bitter, its just because of the sudden massive change in the club since he played there and how we have declined.

Most of his comments will do himself few favours, as others have mentioned.

When he was talking about players leaving and money was he saying the club took the money or players went for money?
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progman07 (Lobby Member) on January 19th, 2013, 5:01 pm

It doesn't matter if someone is bitter, if he has got absolutely spot-on points. Not all of them, obviously Wenger shouldn't give away his wages to Robin, but he doesn't need to anyways, but I'd say 90% he is right, and it doesn't differ from the fans' view either.

I'd like Wenger to go through his interview from point to point and put up a valid argument, not that it would EVER happen with Wenger, he doesn't believe he has to answer to anyone. It's fine while he is on the top, but when he starts to be proved wrong in the game, it gets annoying.
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dyeruz (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 5:02 pm

Find it funny people mention it's below the belt to talk about his salary, yet the same issue has been brought up time and again in this forum.

It's natural for people to be defensive when someone speaks negatively about the club. There's the Stewart Robson way of doing it, harsh and over the top. Then there's constructive criticism.

Are Arsenal miles away from challenging? I think we all know in our hearts of hearts we are
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glaveror (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 5:47 pm

I don't see anything wrong with what he said honestly,we all know we're far from challenging and the table shows it after all.

It's a shame that a legend like him doesn't have any role with the club but what can we do...and interesting part about him talking how Wenger is a difficult man to fathom-if that comes from a man who worked with him for years then all of our guessing here are worth exactly nothing. :)
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dka91 (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 6:00 pm

Hmm well bitter or not (and from my point of view I think there will be atleast a bit of anger for the club fobbing him off in a sense) he says alot of stuff that makes sense.

I mean lets just go through a list of questionable things done at the club by Wenger.

We have serious deficiencies in the squad, does Wenger sign anyone to cover? NO

Does Wenger promote anybody from outside to management team? NO

Did Wenger keep on Keown after he helped in 05/06 champions league run? NO

Does Wenger look to bring in Bergkamp ( seemingly very intellegent footballer and former legend) perhaps to have around the training ground? NO

Did Wenger look to get back Vieira, then possibly give him a role similar to that at City, when he wanted to come back? NO

Has Wenger resolved the defensive deficiences that have plagued us over the last 3-4 seasons? NO

Has Wenger seeked to resolve our repeated lack of penetration against park the bus teams? NO

Annoying.

infineon (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 6:04 pm

I think the problem is that whilst Adams was a great player, he has proven to be a bit of a crappy coach. He has had senior and junior coaching positions all over the place and has never seriously done a great job anywhere. So, whilst it would be nice to see him with a continued role at the club, I'm more of the opinion that he'd be best remembered for his fabulous playing career rather than for a disasterous coaching run.

THunter (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 6:07 pm

dka91 wrote:footballer and former legend) perhaps to have around the training ground? NO

Did Wenger look to get back Vieira, then possibly give him a role similar to that at City, when he wanted to come back? NO
Man City CREATED that role for Vieira because he still had 1 year left on his contract worth £4M over the season, they didn't want him in their squad, taking up a spot so they agreed to give him a role up stairs worth £1M a year for four years.
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bingobob (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 6:19 pm

Are Arsenal now called the National Socialist Republic of Arsenal were ex-players must toe the party line or be considered dissenters that must be expelled and catechised for voicing an opinion that differs from the party line? He is just jealous, bitter, out of touch, money grabber etc. His opinions are very valid and have been echoed by fans, ex-players, current players, pundits, commentators, more or less anyone with an interest in football. To dismiss his opinions as bitter, even if he is, is ignoring the substance of what he is saying which is not bitter but an accurate summary of Arsenal.
On what he has actually said I find myself agreeing but also disagreeing. I believe we have a fantastic team capable of challenging and we should be challenging, especially with a few smart additions to the team. I will use an example often discussed on A-M. Fellow posters frequently talk about Vincent Kompany suggesting he might not be as good a defender if he played for Arsenal pointing out our flawed defence (whether the flaws stem from a failure of attack to defend, midfield, or at the core a weakness in defence) would make him drop down from his current level. Now this may be accurate, and I believe it is, but this suggestion is rarely reversed. Is Vincent Kompany just a better defender because his team is better drilled, organised, with a core stable defence and does this play to his strengths? Assuming this is true then can the logic that a better organised unit/system/defence/tactics would improve the Arsenal defence and Kompany would then be at the level he is for Man City or more importantly would it bring our present CB’s up to that level? And this is where I think Adams is right and also wrong. We, at present, are a million miles away from adopting a better defensive system even though we could do it. Does this come down to “I haven't got a clue how that man thinks, or how he works. He is a difficult man to fathom”. Do the players think that way? Who knows but at present I believe we are not a million miles away we are just shackled by chains that makes us a million miles away and that is not the players or the finance but simply not having a system that shores up the defence and gives us a confident platform to win games 1-0 (I know I put Arsenal in my goal rush more often than not for that reason)
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ArsenesNO1Fan (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 6:25 pm

By all accounts ex-players get a bit of a pass on picking up their badges, where as none players have to work their socks off to pass their exams/badges. Far too many jobs for the boys as it is in the English game as it is. A wealth of playing experience helps but it doesn't necessarily make you the best coach, the 2 are very different
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yuvken (Elite Member) on January 19th, 2013, 6:26 pm

Doesn't say anything new or bring any insight, yet uses his statue/re to throw punches. Yes he's bitter, and even if some of his criticism is justified, he's surely not doing it the right way.

He was Mr. Arsenal, but the bitters are what's left of him. If anything (and it's not easy to justify them!), I can understand why the people upstairs wanted to keep a distance from him. Talking like he has some divine right - "I have a statue outside - and they won't listen to me". Well, statues are given for past contribution. People listen to you if you have something to give for the future. Doubt he has much.

Last edited by yuvken on January 19th, 2013, 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Airknight (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 6:30 pm

Big fan of Jhonny Evans? this man needs to criticize less and watch more.

darthwenger (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 6:32 pm

I think most of his points are valid - he is a fan also and I've heard a lot worse from fan's on here to be honest.

To bring up Wenger's salary is a valid point. We are club that doesn't want to spend big on transfer fee's or on wages yet we have our manager on over 7M a year. A bit hypocritical in my opinion.
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dka91 (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 6:35 pm

THunter wrote:
dka91 wrote:footballer and former legend) perhaps to have around the training ground? NO

Did Wenger look to get back Vieira, then possibly give him a role similar to that at City, when he wanted to come back? NO
Man City CREATED that role for Vieira because he still had 1 year left on his contract worth £4M over the season, they didn't want him in their squad, taking up a spot so they agreed to give him a role up stairs worth £1M a year for four years.


Well I don't argue with that, my whole poitn was if he came back, then perhaps we could have then GONE ON to give him a similar role, just like City did, but with him going to City he naturally progressed after he finished plating football.

psycho (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 6:46 pm

He sounds like a fan tbh.

Not much of what he said is even wrong.
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clockwork orange (Elite Member) on January 19th, 2013, 6:55 pm

Adams should be working for Arsenal. Doesn't matter if he understands Wenger or not.

He can teach (young) players a lot. Not just about defending, but also about a winning mentality.

Feyenoord were very happy with how he performed during his internship at their academy.
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a_fourteen (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 7:08 pm

dka91 wrote:
THunter wrote:
dka91 wrote:footballer and former legend) perhaps to have around the training ground? NO

Did Wenger look to get back Vieira, then possibly give him a role similar to that at City, when he wanted to come back? NO
Man City CREATED that role for Vieira because he still had 1 year left on his contract worth £4M over the season, they didn't want him in their squad, taking up a spot so they agreed to give him a role up stairs worth £1M a year for four years.


Well I don't argue with that, my whole poitn was if he came back, then perhaps we could have then GONE ON to give him a similar role, just like City did, but with him going to City he naturally progressed after he finished plating football.

Do you know what vieira does for city? He goes around the world making appearances at city's junior clinics which is basically a PR exercise. He has no role in their first team recruitment, scouting, training or strategy. He's just another dude milking city's incredible wealth.

dpt49 (Banned) on January 19th, 2013, 7:11 pm

I don't know why some posters are criticising him for what he said.
He is only saying what every other ex player, and some players still at the club, are saying, as well as most supporters.

I don't agree with every thing, but if you read what he said there isn't much to disagree with.

When I read that almost every ex Arsenal legend disagrees with the way the club is being run and then read some supporters on this forum dismissing it, I sometimes wonder if people on here actually know what is going on.

I have never heard one ex player defend what is happening here.
So to those who constantly snipe at any ex player for saying what most of us think, I would say, are they all wrong?

fabo (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 7:13 pm

clockwork orange wrote:Adams should be working for Arsenal. Doesn't matter if he understands Wenger or not.

He can teach (young) players a lot. Not just about defending, but also about a winning mentality.

Feyenoord were very happy with how he performed during his internship at their academy.


Pure guesswork but I get the feeling Wenger is not too keen on our ex-players who are big characters, who have 'out there' personalities that might rock the boat. Adams has a big personality, Wrighty too. Bould seems more calm, composed, less likely to upset the apple-cart. You get the sense that Wenger hasn't truly trusted many people at the club since Dein left.

The defence needs an overhaul in terms of personnel(at least 2 players) and tactics/drilling in my view.
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dyeruz (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 7:23 pm

infineon wrote:I think the problem is that whilst Adams was a great player, he has proven to be a bit of a crappy coach. He has had senior and junior coaching positions all over the place and has never seriously done a great job anywhere. So, whilst it would be nice to see him with a continued role at the club, I'm more of the opinion that he'd be best remembered for his fabulous playing career rather than for a disasterous coaching run.

I do agree with that point, I think it's hard enough to get a competitive team on the pitch, let alone having to worry about transfers, wage negotiations etc. It's easy for ex-players to spout off about how managers should do this and that. Having said that I dont think he was overtly harsh. If we had a title deciding game at the Emirates, he'd be there cheering the boys on
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dyeruz (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 7:25 pm

fabo wrote:
clockwork orange wrote:Adams should be working for Arsenal. Doesn't matter if he understands Wenger or not.

He can teach (young) players a lot. Not just about defending, but also about a winning mentality.

Feyenoord were very happy with how he performed during his internship at their academy.


Pure guesswork but I get the feeling Wenger is not too keen on our ex-players who are big characters, who have 'out there' personalities that might rock the boat. Adams has a big personality, Wrighty too. Bould seems more calm, composed, less likely to upset the apple-cart. You get the sense that Wenger hasn't truly trusted many people at the club since Dein left.

The defence needs an overhaul in terms of personnel(at least 2 players) and tactics/drilling in my view.

Has Fergie had ex players involved with the coaching staff? I mean the first team, not the youth teams etc?
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clockwork orange (Elite Member) on January 19th, 2013, 7:33 pm

If Wenger is affaid of big personalities he should employ them at the academy. They can make sure the kids become big personalities too. Apart from that I really believe in specific trainers for all positions. Tony can teach young defenders so much. From positioning to 'little' things' like what to do when you can't win the header (make sure the other guy will not be able to head it well, put him off balance, whatever). Watching the match-vids telling here you should have done this, etc. Wrighty can teach young strikers similar things.

It's criminal not to use their exprerience. even more so because they were/are Gunners, who can make the kids real Gunners too.
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a_fourteen (Forum Member) on January 19th, 2013, 7:44 pm

Great players don't necessarily make great coaches. Case in point, maradona.
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